What is A Green Card and why does it exist in football?

Have a newbie to football ever asked you “What is a green card”, or have you ever wondered why it was created? You surely know the significance of yellow and red cards when they are brandished by a referee during a football game. But there are also talks about yet another card that may be introduced into the game – The Green Card.

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What is A Green Card

What is A Green Card

Some sects of the footballing universe appear to have been clamoring for a green card to be introduced into the modern game. But the problem is that those sects don’t seem to have come to a consensus on what the significance should be. The universe is currently divided.

While one side of the green card proponents want it as punishment for bad behavior, the other want to use it to reward exemplary behaviors on the pitch.

Pretty polarizing, isn’t it? Well, here are the cases from the two halves of the green card advocates.

2016 was when the green card was first issued in Serie B. Cristian Galano was the player who first received the card which was shown to him by Marco Mainardi. 

What did he do to deserve it?

He helped the referee make a correct decision. So, Galano’s team, Vicenza Calcio, was awarded a corner kick by the ref, but Galano went to him and informed him that the ball had hit one of his teammates and his team should not have been given a corner.

The referee changed his decision and blew for a goal kick instead. Considering that that was a selfless act that we rarely see from football players on the field of play, Marco Mainardi decided to reward that exemplary behavior with a Green Card. Not an actual physical card, though. A virtual green card.

The idea is that if bad behaviors are punished by the ref, then exemplary ones should be recognized and applauded, too.

Now, in a different competition years later – the CONIFA World Cup in 2018 – the green card was also issued, but it had a completely different significance.

First of all, for those who are curious, CONIFA is the Confederation of Independent Football Associations. Basically a body for teams that are not recognized by FIFA.

So, in that tournament, the green card was shown to a couple of players, this time not for exemplary behaviors, but for dissent and disrespect. 

According to CONIFA rules, the green card was introduced into the competition basically to clamp down on disrespect shown to match officials during games. They think actions like that should be punished, but not with something as severe as a red card.

The green card, however, is also a sending-off, but it is a little different from the red in that, although you’re required to leave the field of play when you see green, your team is allowed to substitute you. That means that the team with the player who saw green won’t have to play with a man down for the rest of the game.

Also, the player is not suspended for subsequent games as is usually the case with red cards.

This time around, though, the green card is a physical card, unlike the virtual one issued in Serie B.

This is pretty confusing. If these guys are serious about wanting the green card to be introduced to mainstream football, they will have to, at least, present a united front.

Well, it is worth noting that there is sort of a tiebreaker, though. The Irish Football Association has said that it wants to introduce the green card into their games. And they said that the main purpose of the introduction of the new card would be to promote fair play.

Knowing that a green card would not be enough motivation for players to play extremely fair, they decided to add another incentive. Apparently, having green cards will be one of the criteria considered before teams are cleared to progress “from Local Fun Days to Future Football Cup events”.

There’s something a little different in this case, though. The card is not awarded to individuals for standout play, it is awarded to entire teams. So, not only do the teams have to play fair, they have to also work as a team.

But being asked to play fair is such a broad and vague requirement, isn’t it? Well, this is why the Irish FA gave a list of things teams must do to earn the green card.

Here are the requirements as seen on the organization’s official website. Players will have to:

  1. Line up and shake hands before each game with the opposing team & game officials.
  2. No foul or abusive language used during the game, by either players or coaches.
  3. No over-aggressive play during the game.
  4. No fighting – either with teammates or opposing players.
  5. If a foul is committed, both players involved must shake hands before play restarts.
  6. Respect shown to game officials, other players, and coaches at all times.
  7. Line up and shake hands after each game with the opposing team and game officials.

So, if a team manages to do all these, they earn a green card. A team can only earn a maximum of one per game.

Any team that fails to get a green card in even one of their games will not make it to the Future Football Cup. This way, players are forced to play fair or miss out on playing on the big stage.

What do you think? Is this a brilliant innovation? Should the card really be introduced into mainstream football? If you say yes, how should it be used? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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