What is a white card? When was it used and why?

What is a white card? Why is it shown by referees? And could we see it in the Premier League? All you need to know about the new initiative after it was used in Portugal over the weekend

  • A referee has made history in a Sporting Lisbon vs Benfica match in Portugal 
  • The official showed a white card for the first time ever in the history of the sport
  • It’s part of introductions including concussion subs and longer stoppage time

Football history was made on Saturday when a white card was brandished for the first time  in a professional game in Portugal.

Football fans are used to red and yellow cards for fouls and misdemeanours during a match, having been implemented over 50 years ago at the 1970 World Cup.

Portugal has now introduced a third colour as part of a series of new initiatives in the country, which also includes increased stoppage time and concussion substitutes.

Referee Catarina Campos showed the white card during a women’s cup clash between Sporting Lisbon and Benfica on Saturday

And it was used for the first time during women’s cup match between Sporting Lisbon and Benfica in Lisbon.

It came after someone on the bench in the dugouts reportedly fell unwell at the end of the first-half. 

Medical staff from both teams quickly going to their aid with referee Catarina Campos showing it to members of both sides’ medical teams, prompting a warm reception from fans.  

It came after someone in the dugout fell ill, with medical staff from both teams helping them

 What is a white card and when is it used?

The card can be shown to recognise and encourage fair play and is designed to ‘improve ethical value in the sport’. 

The move is part of a new initiative in Portugal to encourage sides to act in a sporting manner and receive instant recognition for their positive actions.

The white card provides immediate recognition for a positive act during a football match.

While the initiative isn’t widespread just yet, it’s part of a series of new introductions in football.

The referee brandished it as a recognition of their sportsmanlike conduct during the match

What has the response been?

Much like the extra stoppage time seen at the World Cup, the white card has received a somewhat mixed reaction on social media. 

Many people responded with praise, showing their appreciation for what the card represents.

However, others couldn’t quite see the point of what is essentially a symbolic gesture.

One Twitter user replied: ‘effectively means nothing as far as I can tell’.

Could we see it in the Premier League? 

It is unlikely that we will see the card brought in to the Premier League anytime soon.

For the time being, it remains a Portuguese initiative only, so eyes will be kept on how it is received in the coming months. 


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