The White Card: A New Initiative To Promote Fair Play In Football

The White Card in Football

Football has recently become an ever-changing world, with new rules and regulations for referees to integrate into procedures as the seasons pass.

However, you may have never heard of the “white card,” the long-lost brother of the yellow and red cards, ready to strike a stir in the beautiful game. For the first time in a professional situation, the white card was used in the Portuguese Women’s Cup quarter-final match between Benfica and Sporting Lisbon on January 21st. The introduction of the card marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the game in Portugal. Nonetheless, we are investigating when, if ever, the white card will be used in football around the world.

This article was created using verified reporting and research into the white card, the history of its introduction, and other card ideas that have been floated throughout the years to add to the ever-growing list of laws and regulations. Trust us, there is a lot to cover, so sit back, relax, and join us on this strange and lovely adventure as we explore deeper into the meaning of the enigmatic white card.

What is a white card?

The white card is used in football to recognize fair play and doesn’t really have any positive or negative effects on the players, coaches, or staff who receive one from the referee.

If a player, coach, manager, or even a member of the medical staff has acted in good faith, the referee may show them the white card.

The National Plan for Ethics in Sport (PNED), a program focused at enhancing positive acts in football and sports, is the only country where the white card has currently been implemented.

And it’s beginning to pick up even more steam. The white card has been approved by the Portuguese Football Federation (PFF) for use in domestic football competitions like the Liga Portugal.

The white card is presently only used in Portugal because FIFA has been less progressive than its Portuguese equivalents and has not yet approved it. If you want you can also read – Spain Soccer Chief Rubiales Faces Suspension as Spain Government Opens Investigation.

What was the purpose of using a white card?

As previously stated, the white card was first seen on 21 January 2023 in the Portuguese Women’s Cup quarter-final match between Benfica and Sporting Lisbon.

But why was it employed? Someone off the field became ill during the game, prompting medical personnel from both sides to come to the individual’s aid.

The referee then proceeded to pull out the white card in appreciation of both teams joining together in this utter gesture of generosity and good faith, which left fans at the Estadio da Luz speechless.

So much so that the fans in attendance elected to offer the referee and medical staff a standing ovation, establishing a solid foundation for the white card if it was ever to be implemented permanently.

If this debut showing is any indication, the white card will be positively greeted by spectators on game day. However, the PFF may need to do some more convincing to get the white card recognized as a tool for referees all across the world.

History of the white card

Former UEFA president Michel Platini was the first to propose the introduction of the white card into professional football; however, his initial concept differed from how the card is used today.

The Frenchman wants the white card to be used as a punishment for players who showed opposition to the referees, which authorities have been cracking down on recently.

Platini’s intention was to utilize the white card as a kind of sin bin for players, and if they received one, they would have to sit out for 10 minutes.

Any rugby fan will be aware that the sin bin rule is an effective weapon for referees to use; yet, Platini’s brilliant proposal for the white card was never implemented.

However, as has been seen in the sport of rugby, a sin bin approach for players on the field could be a beneficial way to curb abuse or even controversial fouls that would not necessarily deserve a red card.

Other cards

You could suppose that the white card was the only other card trailed alongside the red and yellow cards, but you’d be mistaken.

In the card family that has been displayed in Italy, there is an ugly step-sister who wears a completely different color.

This concept was tested in Serie B, Italy’s second level, with a green card instead of a white card for virtuous conduct on the field.

Cristian Galano of Vicenza was awarded a yellow card in October 2016 after conceding that an opposing defender had not touched the ball after the referee, Marco Mainardi, had initially given a corner.

The green card has also taken on a different significance than that indicated above, and it has been used in the CONIFA World Cup, which pits non-FIFA affiliated nations against one another.

However, in this situation, the green card took on a different significance and was shown to players as a card in the middle of the red and yellow, with players receiving a fixed length of time on the sidelines, similar to Platini’s initial idea for the white card.

When will it be made available elsewhere?

Unless you are a Liga Portugal fan or watch the game there, it does not appear that the white card will be used anytime soon.

This is due to organizations such as FIFA and UEFA, which effectively oversee everything that happens in football and do not allow it to be utilized for recreational purposes.

Nonetheless, with the Portuguese Football Federation giving the white card the thumbs up, it appears that the country will be used as a guinea pig for the program.

As a result, leagues in England, France, Germany, and Italy may use the white card before it is recognized by UEFA or FIFA.

However, as we’ve seen time and again, football’s two highest regulating bodies are usually the first to test any big changes.

Good or bad idea?

With the introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) and other strange adjustments, we’ve all become accustomed to laws and regulations being chopped and modified in sports.

So, is adding a white card to the already wacky mix a good or terrible idea? In principle, it’s a lovely approach to showcase good sportsmanship inside the game, but isn’t it something that should be done anyway?

Is it really necessary to present an extra card to prove a player, manager, or member of staff has made a good-will gesture on the field?

The new white card ruling that has been presented in Portugal appears to be in its early phases, but whether or not it will be a hit with fans on a larger scale remains to be seen.

Despite his inadequacies, Platini’s initial concept for the white card appears to enhance the game slightly more and could present officials with an easier route to take rather than a dubious red card.

It’s difficult to imagine top teams from across Europe enthusiastically introducing a card into the game that would assist them in any way.

This is where a regulatory organization like UEFA may come in handy, by integrating coefficient points or anything similar into the equation when it comes to the white card. However, this may seem a little far-fetched.

For the time being, it appears that supporters of the classic red and yellow cards should relax, as the white card will not be used on a regular basis until there are significant changes in the next several years.