Blue cards and sin bins to be delayed after talks with Fifa

The International Football Association Board, who decide the rules of football, have proposed plans to trial 'blue cards' for sin bins in professional football

The decision to announce when blue cards will be trialled in football has been kicked into March by the International Football Association Board after backlash from managers, players and fans.

Initially scheduled to be announced on Friday, ITV News understands that trial proposals have been delayed following discussions with Fifa.

Blue cards had been set to be introduced to football more than 50 years after the red and yellow cards were first brought into the game.

Players would be shown a blue card if they commit a cynical foul, or show dissent towards a referee, linesman or fourth official, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has said.

All these are currently yellow card offenses, but under the proposed new rules, players would face being sin-binned and would have to spend ten minutes in the technical area.

'It doesn't sound like a fantastic idea in the first moment, but I don't know when the last time they had a fantastic idea these guys if they ever did, I am 56... never.'

They would mark the biggest disciplinary shake-up in the sport since the 1970 Mexico World Cup where red and yellow cards were first introduced.

Blue cards, along with sin-bin trials and other measures are hoped to improve player behaviour.

Premier League managers and legends have already blasted the decision, with former Arsenal player and pundit Paul Merson dubbing the blue cards a "waste of time".

Chief among those pushing back on the idea was Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, who stated he couldn't remember "the last time they (IFAB) had a fantastic idea if ever".

'The game and the image of the game is being tarnished by the behaviour of players,' said former head of Premier League referees Keith Hackett

Klopp, who has recently announced that he would be walking away from Liverpool at the end of the season, said: "The introduction of a new card will give more opportunities to fail as well, and the discussion will be about should it be a blue card, should it be a yellow card, in the good old times it would have been a red card or a yellow.

"These things make it more difficult, if they want to test it then I have no problem with testing, but if that is a first step to agreeing or it happening.

"I don't know it doesn't sound like a fantastic idea in the first moment, but I don't know when the last time they had a fantastic idea these guys if they ever did, I am 56, never."

Tottenham boss Ange Postecoglou, Everton's Sean Dyche and Crystal Palace's Roy Hodgson are among those who have voiced criticism for the new rules.

Explained: How the new blue card system is expected to work

What is happening?

The IFAB, the governing body that determines the laws of the game of association football, was set to publish protocols on Friday in an effort to improve participant behaviour, including trials for a sin-bin.

Sin-bins have been trialled successfully at grassroots level and are now set to be tested higher up the chain.

However, during the initial trial phase, top-level competitions will not be involved. This is to avoid confusion among players – for instance if their domestic league ran a trial but a continental competition they were involved in at the same time did not.

It is not precisely clear what level the new protocols will be stress-tested at initially.

What’s this about blue cards?

It is understood referees will use blue cards to indicate a player must go to the sin-bin.

Sin-bins will be used for two specific offences – dissent and tactical fouls, such as Giorgio Chiellini’s tug on Bukayo Saka in the Euro 2020 final.

Players will be ordered to go to the technical area for ten minutes. If a player has already been booked, a blue card will mean they are sent off. Two blue cards will also result in dismissal.

Bournemouth's Philip Billing (right) is shown a red card by referee Rebecca Welch for serious foul play. Credit: PA

What other measures are the IFAB looking at?

As well as sin-bins, competitions will have the option to trial ‘captain only zones’.

These are to be used by referees when they feel threatened or intimidated and mean that once the zone has been created, only team captains should enter.

A further trial is understood to centre on ‘cooling-off’ periods, where a referee sends teams to their penalty areas to calm down after a mass confrontation, for example.

Another trial will look at a new approach to how long goalkeepers can handle the ball, and how play should restart when they hold on too long.

Currently goalkeepers can hold on for six seconds and anything over that is supposed to be penalised with an indirect free-kick, but lawmakers are concerned this is not being properly enforced.

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