Mark Solomons

Football doesn’t need a blue card

Stop messing with the game

  • From Spectator Life
(iStock)

Football is becoming a testing ground for every madcap idea the supposed guardians of the sport can come up with. The latest is the blue card, a stopgap between the yellow and red cards for bookings and sendings off, designed to send players to a sin bin for ten minutes should they commit one of two offences: dissent or cynical fouls to prevent a goalscoring opportunity.

It’s clearly designed to jazz up the game for a global television audience

Sure, it works in rugby and ice hockey and something called roller derby where a brief period of numerical advantage can make a big difference. But as any football fan knows, this is less certain in the beautiful game. Introduce a ten minute 10 vs 11 period into a football match and you can guarantee the depleted side will simply pack the defence for 600 seconds of stupefying non-action.

It’s clearly designed to jazz up the game for a global television audience rather than for those of us who actually go to games, as I have been doing with Spurs for almost five decades as a season ticket holder. As if that wasn’t punishment enough, VAR has already sucked the joy out of many matches as we wait to see whether or not we can celebrate a goal being allowed or disallowed, depending which side you’re on.

It also means long periods of nothing happening while the game extends from 90 minutes to nearer two hours. Not a problem for those in front of the TV but mind-numbing for those of us at the games who, unfortunately, are now of least concern for football’s governors.

In this case it’s the idea of the International Football Association Board, another one of those governing bodies we rarely hear from until they say something stupid. The idea is to trial it at lower levels of the sport first – grass roots football initially.

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