FIFA rules panel scraps plan for blue cards

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Nottingham Forest’s Neco Williams, (left), duels for the ball with Liverpool’s Darwin Nunez during the English Premier League soccer match between Nottingham Forest and Liverpool at City ground in Nottingham, England. (AP )

LONDON, March 2,(AP): There will be no blue cards shown in soccer, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Saturday ahead of the annual meeting of the sport’s rule-making panel.
The rules panel known as IFAB later extended trials of “sin bins” at low-level and youth games. But beyond that, the idea aired one month ago of adding blue cards to referees’ pockets with their red and yellow to remove players from the field for several minutes was scrapped.

“Let me be clear – it’s a red card to the idea of ‘blue’ cards,” Infantino told reporters in a video clip posted overnight on his Instagram account. “There will not be any blue cards used at elite level.”
“This is a topic that is non-existent for us and FIFA is completely opposed to blue cards,” Infantino said arriving late Friday at a lakeside hotel that hosted the meeting near Glasgow, Scotland.
Infantino did not attend the post-meeting news conference Saturday and has not taken questions at a formal media event since before FIFA picked preferred candidates five months ago for the men’s World Cups in 2030 and 2034.

Other decisions Saturday included updating the laws of soccer to let competition organizers approve teams making extra substitutions when a player has a suspected concussion injury. Player unions have been consistently blocked in requests for temporary substitutions that would allow an injured player to return after being assessed.
Sin bins were introduced in grassroots soccer in the 2019-20 season to try to reduce dissent and increase fair play.

The idea has been unpopular with English Premier League coaches who believe teams will use defensive and negative tactics if a player is removed for 10 minutes.
However, the new suggestion of using blue cards to send players to sin bins was met with widespread derision.

The IFAB panel said in extending sin bin trials “any potential wider application will only be considered once the impact of these changes has been reviewed.”
Seeking to improve player behavior, the panel approved trials in professional competitions “below the top two tiers” to let only captains approach the referee and cooling-off periods that let the referee send both teams to their penalty area.

“It’s much better to get it right away from the pressures of the cameras and the fan,” English Soccer Federation chief executive Mark Bullingham said.
The IFAB panel is made up of officials from FIFA and the four British soccer federations. FIFA has four votes and the federations of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales each have one. Six votes are needed for a proposal to pass.

The panel also extended trials that let referees explain their decision after a video review. FIFA let referees broadcast their reasons at the Women’s World Cup last year and will do so again at the Paris Olympics tournaments that start July 24.

“It is absolutely important we improve in-stadium communications,” Scotland Federation chief executive Ian Maxwell said. “It is far from ideal sometimes.”
IFAB agreed that competitions wanting to let referees broadcast decisions must get permission from the panel and “will have to commit to following FIFA’s refereeing and technology guidelines.”
Soccer is moving toward following rugby in using sin bins for a variety of fouls.
Ice hockey similarly whistles penalties that send players to the “penalty box.” Infractions such as tripping are two-minute penalties that give the other team an advantage called the “power play” that creates more goal-scoring opportunities.

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