Fifa president gives ‘red card to the blue card’

Referee holds up a blue card
Giani Infantino kills of Ifab's plan to introduce blue cards

Gianni Infantino has given a “red card to the blue card”, killing off plans to introduce it to football.

The Fifa president signalled the death knell for the game’s first permanent new card for more than half a century by vetoing its use in sin-bin trials in the professional game.

Telegraph Sport’s revelation last month that football’s lawmaking body, the International Football Association Board (Ifab), was planning to introduce such a card sparked worldwide panic and fierce opposition from the Premier League’s leading bosses.

Speaking after arriving at Loch Lomond ahead of Ifab’s annual general meeting on Saturday, Infantino said: “Fifa is completely opposed to blue cards. I was not aware of this topic, the president of Fifa, and I think Fifa has a say in Ifab. If you want a title, it is red card to the blue card. No way. We have to be serious. We are always open to look at ideas and proposals. Everything has to be treated with respect, of course. But once you look at it, you also have to protect the essence and tradition of the game. There is no blue card.”

Other members of Ifab’s own board, which include the chief executives of the four home associations and Fifa, had also been blindsided by plans for a blue card to form part of protocols drawn up by the law-making body’s administration.

Sin-bin trials are now expected to involve a yellow card and a referee gesturing for a player to exit the pitch.
The blue card became a lightning rod for growing opposition to sin-bins in football, with the president of Uefa, Aleksander Ceferin, having told Telegraph Sport in January he was totally against the concept.

Ifab has already been forced to row back on plans for top-tier competitions to be included in initial trials and it could further water down proposals for cynical fouls to be part of sin-bin protocols and focus instead exclusively on dissent, which it has warned could be the “cancer that kills football”.

Telegraph Sport has also been told of concerns about what happens when a goalkeeper is sin-binned after it emerged that would force teams to choose between putting an outfield player in goal or making at least one permanent substitution.

The publication of new protocols laying all this out was abruptly blocked last month following the panic caused – including in football’s corridors of power – by the emergence of the blue card plan.

Among other items on the agenda at the Ifab AGM are plans to give referees the power to stop matches for “cooling-off periods” in the event of mass confrontations.

The length of such periods has yet to be decided for a move that could see players ordered to retreat to their own penalty area.

Other proposals include trialling another rugby-style measure that would ban any player except a team captain from approaching match officials.

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