top of page

Referee Articles

Because yellow caution cards are used in soccer, Thomas Metzen, a German Bundesliga referee, didn’t have a problem simultaneously cautioning a player from each team. However, this action needs to be examined. Can referees do this in certain situations and is this practice, in fact, legal?

By Jose Borda, Revista Arbitros

Is double yellow card allowed?

Law 5
There is no specific section solely devoted to yellow or red cards. Law 5

does discuss their use and the referees’ duty, specifically that a referee

has the authority to take disciplinary action against players guilty of

cautionable offenses or sending- off offenses. In addition the referee

has the power to show yellow or red cards to players up to and

including to the end of extra time and penalty kicks.

Law 12
The law authorizing the use of cards is Law 12. In the section titled “Disciplinary Sanctions” it says yellow or red cards should be used to communicate that a player, or substituted player, has been cautioned or sent off.  It gives the reasons either card should be shown. There are seven for each. If a player commits one of the offenses,, a card should be shown without exception.

While the referee in this case did not violate the taking of disciplinary action as required, in simultaneously showing each player a caution card for their fouls, he did not display the common sense required in those situations not specifically addressed in the Laws. Most importantly he forgot one of the necessary components, “the referee’s signals,” which is one of the most important tools that even beginning referees should use when officiating a match.

Important Signals

The referee’s signals are described in the Laws with illustrations so as to provide uniformity in the way referees will use their arms to signal a free kick, application of advantage and how to show yellow and red cards. Without these guidelines, each referee could use his personal signals. However, all referees must adhere to using specific signals which are strictly applied.

Not Allowed

The action of showing cards simultaneously with both hands to different players is unusual and should not become a habit for any reason. In soccer, the players are the stars of the game. Referees are officials and should use procedures reflecting agreed upon signals. There is little need for changes and innovations. That should be left to the FIFA Board.

bottom of page