Yellow Cards vs Red Cards In Football: Difference and Comparison

The referee uses yellow and red cards in football to communicate with the players instead of ‘word of mouth’ in case of any foul play, as stated by the game laws. 

The usage of the cards originated back in the year 1970, although sending players off the players started way back in the 1880s.

Key Takeaways

  1. Yellow cards are a warning to players who commit minor offenses or unsportsmanlike behavior on the field.
  2. Red cards are given to players who commit serious offenses or receive two yellow cards in the same match.
  3. A player who receives a red card is ejected from the game, and his team must play with one less player for the remainder of the match.

Yellow Cards vs Red Cards

Yellow cards in football, are used as a measure or a way to caution players for minor fouls, indicating a warning to the player. Red cards are used to signal a serious offense, which would then cause the player to be sent off from the field and the team would have to play with one less player.

Yellow Cards vs Red Cards

The yellow card serves as a warning to the affected player and all other players in the game, as well as coaches and substitutes, as well as spectators and observers that the affected player has been cautioned against further misbehaviour (an offence against the game or an act of unsporting behaviour, as distinguished from a technical infraction of the Laws of the Game, or an act of foul play against an opponent).

In football, they give players that commit severe fouls against other players a red card.

Off-the-ball tackles can also result in ejection from the game and a one-match punishment, depending on the severity of the opponent’s action towards the goalmouth, according to original FIFA rules.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonYellow CardsRed Cards
What does it mean?A yellow card means ‘caution’ in a football game.The red card means two things. One is that the player has committed a serious offence, and the second one is to leave the field immediately.
Reasons For The CardUnsporting behavior, dissent by action or word, wasting time for a free kick, not standing at the mandatory distance while free kick, entering and reentering the field, etc.Serious foul play, spitting, abusive language, showing violence, deliberating fouling, pondering, etc.
Substitutes of PlayerNot allowedNot allowed
ContinuityThe game can be resumed.The player has to leave the pitch out rightly.
Number of Game SuspensionsOne matchThree matches

What is a Yellow Cards In Football?

The only individual who gives a yellow card is a soccer referee, who must purchase one as part of his or her uniform.

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A yellow card is shown to a player, all other players on the field, and the team’s technical area personnel (coaches and replacements) to show that the referee has formally cautioned the player.

A formal caution causes the referee’s submission of a supplemental addendum to the game report outlining the incident.

Receiving many cautions throughout several games may cause the player to be forced to sit out (miss) the next game in some leagues and/or tournaments.

If a player commits an actionable offence that justifies a second caution in the same game, the referee will first display the yellow card, then the red card, and the player will be removed from that game for committing an actionable offence after already being cautioned.

If a player commits any of the following violations, he or she will be warned and given a yellow card:

  • Dissension is expressed in words or deeds.
  • Persistent violations of the game’s rules cause a delay in the game’s resumption (including deliberate time-wasting tactics).
  • When the game is restarted with a corner kick, a throw-in, or a free-kick, failure to maintain the required distance.
  • Entering or re-entering the field of play without authorization from the referee.
  • Leaving the field of play without the approval of the referee.
yellow cards

What is a Red Cards In Football?

They give a red card for a more serious violation or when a player receives a second yellow card. A player who receives a red card is required to leave the field.

Receiving a card might have a variety of outcomes.

A three-match penalty is commonly imposed after a red card for violent behaviour. The ban may be extended if the incident is more serious. If the red is for less serious causes, it might be a one-match suspension.

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Consequences of red card:

Any player who receives a Red Card is removed from the game and cannot be replaced, leaving the team short-handed for the rest of the game. 

If the goalkeeper is ejected (Red Card), the game does not resume until the team names a new goalkeeper and assigns a different colour jersey to him. 

If the team’s maximum number of substitutes hasn’t been used, that may be one substitute in the team area or a field player switching to the goalie.

Beyond that, the punishment is up to the particular league. Many leagues will bar that player from participating in the following game (and that gets complicated if the next game is not a league game, etc.).

Main Differences Between Yellow Cards And Red Cards In Football

  1. A yellow card can make the player remain on the pitch. However, the player is restricted. Any additional error would result in a red card. In contrast, a red card sends the player straight to the locker room. His/her team becomes a player less.
  2. The referee shows a yellow card for arguing with officials, persistent fouls, using vulgar language, professional fouls, and taking off shirts while the goal celebrations. The referee shows the red card for extreme actions like biting an opponent, discriminating remarks, spitting, etc.
  3. A player who received the yellow card can continue his game on the field. A player who has received the red card has to leave the field.
  4. A player with a yellow card cannot be substituted but can continue the game. A player with a red card cannot be substituted, and the team has to finish the game with one less player.
  5. A yellow card can be shown twice, but a red card can only be shown once.
Difference Between Yellow Cards And Red Cards In Football

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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12 thoughts on “Yellow Cards vs Red Cards In Football: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The logistics of what happens after a yellow or red card are informative, highlighting the broader effects of a player’s actions on the field.

  2. The distinctions between yellow and red cards are crucial for understanding the severity of player misconduct and the impact on the game.

  3. The use of yellow and red cards is a critical part of football and understanding the implications of each is important for both players and fans.

  4. The details about the offenses that result in yellow and red cards emphasize the importance of the rules in maintaining the integrity of football games.

  5. Yellow and red cards are a clear and effective way for referees to communicate with players and ensure that proper conduct is maintained.

  6. The use of yellow and red cards is an excellent example of how rules and enforcement are vital aspects of organized sports.

  7. The history of the use of yellow and red cards is interesting and sheds light on the need for clear communication in sports.


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