Portugal: Football referee brandishes white card for the first time - but what does it mean?

Referee Catarina Campos showed the white card during a women's cup clash between Sporting Lisbon and Benfica. Credit: Canal 11

Football fans across the world will be familiar with yellow and red cards that are brandished by referees.

They were introduced over 50 years ago in the 1970 World Cup for fouls and disruption of the game.

But history was made on Saturday 21st January as the first white card in football was shown by a match official in Portugal.

It was shown during a clash between Sporting Lisbon and Benfica women's teams in the women's Portuguese league cup, in which Benfica won 5-0.

What is a white card?

The card was introduced by Portuguese authorities as part of a new initiative to encourage teams to act in a sporting manner and get immediate positive recognition.

It can be shown to anyone who is involved in fair play and is designed to improve the ethics in the sport.

Why was it shown?

The card was shown just before half-time to medical staff from both sides after they rushed to the aid of a fan who felt unwell in the stands.

As the card was shown to the medical staff, the crowd stood on the their feet to applaud the medics as they walked back to the dugout.

Could we see white cards being introduced in the UK?

It is yet to be seen if the white card will be introduced to other football leagues around the world, including in the UK.

Those who make and oversee the rules in the game, the International Football Association Board, would first have to discuss if it could be an option before we see the white card anytime soon in the UK.