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How Long Do Yellow Cards Last In Soccer?

How Long Do Yellow Cards Last In Soccer?

Without strict rules to caution or penalize offenders, the game of soccer can easily degenerate into a brawl owing to the massive emotion that is often immersed into the game by both the fans and soccer players.

In soccer, yellow cards are seen as a caution from the center referee. It can be shown to a player for a number of reasons including repeatedly going against the laws of the game.

Since soccer players usually come from all parts of the globe, the use of color cards makes it easy for everyone to understand.

Even though a yellow card is interpreted as a caution, it can change the dynamics of the game because the player has to be extremely careful in their tackles so as not to get another which will automatically earn them a red card.

Since getting two yellow cards can mean automatic dismissal in a match, many soccer fans may be eager to know what will happen to a player if they get a yellow card in two successive matches. Will it mean that they will be sent off when they get the yellow card in the second game?

The referee is giving someone a yellow card

This brings to mind the big question, “How long do yellow cards last in soccer?” Will a yellow card expire at the end of a match?

We read through all the concerns that most of our readers have and decided to put together this piece that will explain everything you need to know about how long a yellow card will last.

How long do yellow cards last in soccer?

According to the FIFA law of the game, Law 12 categorizes three types of offenses that can earn a player a caution using the words ‘careless’, ‘reckless’, and ‘use of excessive force’.

Fouls considered reckless will earn a player a yellow card while a foul resulting from the use of excessive force will cause the player to be sent off.

While the law of the game stipulates punishable offenses, it is up to the referee to decide the severity of the offense and decide which card is more suitable. That explains why a player can slide tackle and get a yellow while another will do the same and get a straight red.

⚽️ Fouls in Soccer : Soccer Direct Fouls / Indirect Fouls and Goalkeeper Fouls Explained

The impact of a yellow card on a soccer player can vary depending on the time of the game they were shown the card. For example, getting a yellow card in the first minute of the game will mean that the player will have to play cautiously for the rest of the game which is not the same as getting a yellow card in the last minute of the game.

Yellow cards will last till the end of the game—regardless of whether you got it in the first or last minute.

However, for non-competitive games, the yellow card is removed from the player at the end of the game. That means they can go into the next game on a clean slate.

For competitive games that run for a long stretch of time like in qualifiers or league seasons, on the other hand, a yellow card decision from the previous game will remain with the player. That explains why you will see yellow card signs beside the name of some players when they are being introduced at the beginning of a new game.

The referee gives a yellow card and the players in blue are protesting

Based on a predetermined number, the yellow cards in most competitive games will continue to accumulate up to a number that will lead to the suspension of the player for a certain amount of games.

For World Cup qualification, league season, or similar tournaments, getting a yellow card in two successive games will lead to a one-match suspension.

In La Liga (the main Spanish league), a player will miss the next match if they get a yellow card in two successive games. However, a player will never be shown a red card for getting one yellow card each in two successive games or forced out of the pitch.

The rule is slightly different for FIFA World Cup games. If a player gets a yellow card in the first two games of the group stage, they will miss the last group game because the effect of the yellow card from the first game will be transferred to the second.

The same happens if the player gets a yellow card in the early knock-out phase. However, once the competition has reached the semi-final round, the decisions from the previous games will no longer count.

The World Cup rule on yellow cards is identical to that of the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. So, no player can ever miss the finals because of accumulated yellow cards.

Likewise, in the UEFA Champions League, yellow card records are erased from every player once the competition gets to the knockout stages. Hence, there is no universal rule that determines how accumulated yellow cards are handled.

In Euro 2020, the card rule stipulates that in addition to missing the next match after two consecutive yellow cards, a player will also get a one-match suspension after their fourth yellow card. This is contained in Article 52 of the Euro 2020 regulations.

In most major competitions, a soccer player will not miss the finals because of accumulated yellow cards. However, it is up to a soccer federation to decide the punishment for accumulated yellow cards—which explains why this may vary from one federation to another.

Law 12 Fouls And Misconduct

Accumulated yellow cards in futsal

The rules of futsal differ significantly from that of soccer and the yellow card rule is not an exception. Unlike association football, only players or substitutes are shown a yellow or a red card—meaning a coach cannot get a yellow card.

If the match has started, the referee will have to show the relevant card publicly. However, in other cases, the referee can verbally tell the player and the team officials about any disciplinary sanctions.

Rather than accumulated yellow cards, the Law 12 of futsal shows that the game has accumulated fouls. In other words, a foul by one player will not only affect the player but the entire team.

Any foul committed by a team that the referee judges as ‘careless’, ‘reckless’, or ‘using excessive force’ that leads to a direct free-kick continues to accumulate and is known as accumulated foul. Some of the fouls that can lead to a direct free kick include;

  • Kicking or attempting to kick an opponent
  • Deliberately handling the ball (except for goalkeepers)
  • Tripping an opponent
  • Spitting at an opponent
  • Jumping at an opponent
  • Holding an opponent
  • Striking or attempting to strike an opponent
  • Pushing an opponent

Once a team commits a sixth accumulated foul, a free-kick without a wall is awarded against the offending team on the second penalty mark which is ten meters from goal. Accumulated fouls from regular game time will be carried over into the extra time if the game goes into extra time.

Like in association football, if a player is shown two yellow cards within the same game, they will be shown a red card which ends their playing time. The accumulated foul is not carried into the next match.

The Rules of Futsal (Futsala) - EXPLAINED!

Accumulated yellow cards in beach soccer

Like all forms of soccer, a yellow card is given to a player as a caution, and beach soccer is not an exemption. The referee judges what offense will attract a yellow card and will usually include;

  • Acts that depict a lack of sportsmanship
  • Opposing the referee’s decision
  • Entering the court before the substituted player has left

If a player receives one yellow card in a game, they shall be suspended from play for two minutes as they go to serve their punishment in the ‘Sin-Bin”. The team will continue to play without the penalized player giving the opponents a two-minute advantage.

Some people are playing beach soccer

According to the law of beach soccer, receiving two yellow cards in the same game will lead to a red card. When a beach soccer player gets a red card, they will be sent off the game.

In addition to being sent off from the game, the player shall miss the next game. Each card has a penalty point.

A red card is equal to 9 points while a yellow card is equal to 3 points. If a player accumulates 9 points (either one red card or three yellow cards), they will miss the next game in that tournament.

If a player accumulates 18 points (two red cards or six yellow cards) they will be suspended for the next two games in that tournament.

Any player that accumulates a total of 21 points will be suspended immediately from the tournament. If the last point was accumulated from a yellow card, the team will be allowed to replace the player after they serve their two minutes suspension.

The Rules of Beach Soccer - EXPLAINED!

Accumulated yellow cards in indoor soccer

In addition to yellow and red cards, indoor soccer introduces a third card, a blue card. In terms of hierarchy, the blue card is the least followed by yellow then red.

The offenses that will cause the referee to show a player a blue card in indoor soccer is similar to the yellow card offense in other forms of soccer. However, apart from the red card, a blue or yellow card will attract a 2-minute suspension from the game which gives the opponent a number advantage.

An indoor soccer player will receive a yellow card after receiving a second blue card within the same game. This results in a 2-minute suspension. A second yellow card will lead to a red card which can attract up to 5-minute suspension and ejection from the game.

some players are in a indoor soccer match

How long does a yellow card last in the Premier League?

Accumulation of yellow cards in the Premier League attracts match bans. However, the way yellow card accumulation is calculated is slightly different from the way other tournaments calculate theirs.

If a player receives 5 yellow cards before the 19th league game they will receive a one-game suspension. If they get 10 yellow cards before the 32nd league game, they will get a two-game suspension.

However, if a player gets 15 yellow cards before the last league game is played, they will receive a three-game suspension. All game suspension will only be served in the Premier League.

For example, if a player gets a one-game suspension in the Premier League, it will not affect their participation in an FA Cup match.

The yellow card accumulation rule in the Premier League is similar to what happens in Major League Soccer (MLS). When a player accumulates 5 yellow cards in MLS they get an automatic one-game suspension.

In most league competitions, yellow cards are reset halfway through the competition.


Inasmuch as yellow card accumulation can lead to a certain number of game suspensions it rarely deters soccer players from making tough challenges on their opponents. For example, in the 2019-20 Premier League season, a total of 1,281 yellow cards were shown to different soccer players.

However, the number of red cards shown in the same period is only 44. The huge gap shows how much soccer players dread red cards compared to yellow cards.

It will interest you to know that the soccer player with the most yellow cards gotten in a professional career to date is Sergio Ramos with 259 yellow cards. He also has the highest number of red cards (23) in the last two decades.

Defenders are usually more prone to getting yellow cards compared to other players on the team. Nevertheless, teams try to avoid players that pick cards easily because of the huge disadvantage they can bring to a team during a soccer match.