Red card

Red cards in soccer are one of the worst punishments a player can receive during a game. A player who is shown a red card during a game of soccer is sent off the pitch and cannot be replaced by another player, leaving the team one man down.

A red card is shown after a player has been shown two yellow cards, or if the player has committed an offense that has been deemed too inappropriate for the game.

Learn more about how and why yellow cards are used here

What Does a Red Card in Soccer Mean?

A red card in soccer is either granted after two yellow cards or after a serious offense. The behavior that can land a player with a red card is listed in the rules of soccer, and includes behavior such as:

  • Serious Foul Play
    What constitutes serious foul play is mostly up to the referee’s discretion, but it is usually behavior that can endanger another player’s safety or two-footed tackles.
  • Violence
    Violence is strictly against the rules of soccer. Hitting, punching or kicking an opponent in a deliberate or violent manner will usually be dealt with by a red card.
  • Abusive Language or Spitting
    Deliberate spitting is nearly always a guaranteed red card. The use of derogatory, racist or otherwise abusive language is also prohibited and can also be punished immediately with a red card.
  • Deliberate Fouling
    This includes deliberately fouling to prevent a goal, and using one’s hands to deflect the ball (Handball).
  • Being Shown two Yellow Cards
    Being shown two yellow cards means an automatic red card will be given. This may be the easiest way to be given a red card, and is certainly the most common.