In soccer, a caution acts as a warning to a player who has committed an offense or is trying to affect the game in a negative way.

The most common punishment given by the referee is either a final warning or yellow card, however, if the offending player repeatedly commits the offense a more severe punishment, such as a red card can be given.

Cautions can be given out by the referee depending on how serious the offense committed is.

For example a foul and a warning can be given:

  • If the offending player commits a first offense and the referee deems it not to be worthy of a yellow card.
  • If an ‘unsportsmanlike foul or tackle is committed by a player.
  • If a player delays the restart of play or is seen to be ‘timewasting’.

If a player continues to commit these offenses after this official warning has been given then a yellow card can be awarded.

If a player repeatedly ignores these cautions then the referee can be forced to dismiss the player and award a red card.