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How Many Red Cards Can You Get in Soccer?

How Many Red Cards Can You Get in Soccer?

It is very common to see a referee in a soccer match brandishing yellow or red cards to the face of players. Players earn cards for misconduct or a foul during a match.

The practice of warning and dismissing players in soccer has been in the Laws of the Game since the year 1881.

Red and Yellow cards were first used during the 1970 World Cup tournament in Mexico, although they have become more popular today.

The idea of red and yellow cards was first proposed by an Englishman Sir Kenneth George Aston after witnessing excessive confusion during the 1966 World Cup in England.

Ken Aston, who was in charge of all the referees, noticed a lot of confusion regarding send-offs, caution, and foul calls during a soccer match.

Referees weren’t able to properly communicate their decisions to players and coaches during a game due to the language barrier and distinction in backgrounds.

His color-coding solution was first used in the 1970 World Cup and it was an instant success. It reduced a lot of stress on the part of referees and made game-flow smoother.

Referees didn’t have to do a lot of talking and arguing; they only needed to hand out yellow cards to caution and red cards to dismiss players during a game.

Red card and yellow card in soccer

This solution was globally accepted because it was sleek and resonated well with everybody no matter their country or region.

It has been over 50 years since its invention and color-coding is still the standard used all over the world in soccer.

There is no official limit to the number of red cards a referee can issue during a soccer game. However, a game will automatically be terminated as soon as less than 7 players of a team remain on the field of play.

In soccer, a player can get a maximum of two yellow cards and one red card in a single game. However, there is no limit to the number of cards they can receive during their career. 

How many red cards can you get in soccer?

As stated earlier, a red card signifies dismissal which means that a particular player can no longer take part in a match.

When a player is given a red card, they leave a vacancy in their team which can’t be refilled for the entirety of that particular match.

Red cards cause numerical disadvantage to a team and the worst part is that benched players and team coaches aren’t exempted from receiving red cards. Red cards can be received for the following offenses:

Serious Foul Play

Serious foul play in soccer

The Laws of the game describe Serious Foul Play as a tackle or an attack that endangers the health and safety of an opponent.

Playing safe in soccer is taken very seriously by officials because soccer players don’t wear safety gear which makes them vulnerable to serious injuries.

This is why players who play with excessive force always fall into the bad book of referees. Reckless fouls like high tackle, backslide, and two-footed tackles mostly get a red card.

The Laws of the game permit the referee to make the final decisions concerning what color of a card to issue during a game.

Violent Conduct

Violent conduct in soccer

Violent conduct can be committed by coaches and coaching staff, players on reserve, and even managers, unlike Serious Foul Play.

It is described as an act done during a game and flagged as violent by the referee. Some examples of violent conduct include elbowing, punching, kicking, kneeing, and insulting fellow players or officials.

Spitting and Abusive Language

Some abusive languages earn players a yellow card but when they are personal or racially inclined, a red card will be issued.

Spitting at an opponent or a match official is hardly forgiven in soccer without being issued a red card.

Blocking a Goal-Scoring Opportunity with a Foul or Handball

When players intentionally foul an opponent with a clear goal-scoring chance, a red card is always issued.

The same fate goes to players who deliberately stop a ball from crossing the goal line using their hands (exempting goalkeepers).

Goalkeepers also get a red card when they lay hands on the ball outside their 18-yard box.

Soccer player doing a block in the match

Receiving a Second Yellow Card

Receiving a second yellow card in a single soccer match automatically means a red card. A player must exit a game after receiving two yellow cards.

To avoid a second yellow card after receiving the first, a player must play the rest of the time left with extreme caution.

A player that has been sent off by two yellow cards can not be replaced and they must not be seen at the side of the pitch.

Soccer player reciving the red card

How many red cards are there in soccer? 

When a player gets a red card from a referee, it means they have done something unforgivable. Red cards are not only synonymous with Association Football, other variants of soccer also issue out red cards.

We shall be looking at some other forms of soccer and what can earn players a red card while playing them.


When players commit a foul in futsal, a referee can award an indirect or a direct free-kick to the opposing team.

If a cruel foul takes place in the penalty area, a penalty can also be awarded just like in association football.

In a futsal match, a player can receive a maximum of one red card which ends their match-play-time.

A player can be replaced with a substitute in futsal even after receiving a red card.

The substitute must wait for two minutes after a teammate has been dismissed by a red card before coming into a game unless a goal is scored before the termination of the two minutes.

As per FIFA rules, a team can receive a maximum of 3 red cards in a match. When this happens, the opposing team is automatically declared the winner.

How many red cards can you get in soccer?

Beach Soccer

Beach soccer is officiated by two on-field referees. The chief and the assistant referee co-officiate the game.

A third referee helps in officiating like association football’s fourth official and timekeeper.

A player can only receive a maximum of one red card per match, after which they must exit the vicinity.

A team is free to substitute a player who receives a red card for two minutes after the player vacates the field.

A beach soccer team can only receive a maximum of 3 red cards in a game.

Indoor Soccer


A single referee officiates a game in indoor soccer but can be assisted by a second referee, timekeeper, and assistant referee.

A referee has the final say in indoor soccer when it comes to upholding rules and making important choices during gameplay.

A player can receive a maximum of one red card in a match after which they must vacate the facility.

When a player receives 3 red cards in one year, they get suspended from the facility for one year.

When a player is issued two blue cards or two yellow cards in a single game, they automatically get a red.

An indoor soccer team can receive a maximum of 4 red cards in a single game.

How many red cards can you get in a FIFA match?

The referee giving a red card

As stated in Law 3 of the FIFA Law Book, “there cannot be less than 7 players of one team on the field during play”.

In regards to this law, a maximum of 4 on-field players of a team can be discharged in a match. When 5 players of one team receive a red card, the match automatically ends.

A FIFA match can only continue if 7 in-field players are present in a team. There is no limit to the number of red cards that can be issued by a referee in a single game.

Referees can issue an unlimited number of red cards to the benched substitutes, coaching staff, and manager.

In a fifth-tier Argentinian League match between Victoriano Arenas and Claypole, 36 red cards were issued by the referee. This match holds the record for the highest number of red cards handed in one match.

What happens if you get 5 red cards?

Referee giving red car in soccer

Different sports have different reasons for automatically terminating a match before the elapse of its official timing.

This situation is what is referred to as forfeiture in sports. It can either occur before a match even starts or during a game.

It occurs before a match starts if a team is unable to meet basic standards required by the game rules.

In association football, both teams must have a minimum of seven players for a game to be possible as stated by law.

Any number less than 7 by any chance or circumstance would make a soccer game impossible to continue or start in the first place.

If five players of a team receive red cards, the match abruptly gets called off and the team with the most score is declared the winner.

In futsal, indoor soccer, and beach soccer, it is practically impossible for a team to be issued 5 red cards in a game because 3 red cards are enough to terminate a game.

Association football is the only variant of soccer where a team can receive up to 5 red cards in one game. 

Can a player get 2 red cards?  

Referring to a single game, a player can only get one red card in a game but can get an unlimited number of red cards during the duration of their career.

In a Spanish second-division league game, Cristobal Marquez, a CF Fuenlabrada midfielder, was sent off twice in a single match for executing a flying kick on Girona’s Alex Granell.

Cristobal’s challenge looked brutal from the referee’s viewpoint but less brutal when he viewed it on the Virtual Assistant Referee (VAR).

The referee had to call back Cristobal from the changing room for a booking instead after initially sending him off.

On coming back to the game, Cristobal was provoked into an argument with Granell which earned him a second yellow card and another red card in a single game.

What happens if you get 2 red cards in soccer?

A player receiving a red card is one of the most heartbreaking moments in the game of soccer. Especially when a foul isn’t committed deliberately.

A player can avoid receiving red cards by knowing the rules of the game and abiding by them. Although sometimes mistakes can’t be avoided no matter how hard we try.

From the rules of soccer, it’s practically impossible for a player to get two red cards in a single match because once a red card is issued, a player must exit the field into the changing room.

When a red card is issued, a player must be banned from at least one game after the initial game the card was given.

A disciplinary board or panel can review a referee’s decision on any red card given. They can totally overturn the decision, reduce or even extend the length of the punishment given.

Sometimes players get fined for receiving a red card which is up to their club to decide.

What happens if a player gets too many red cards?   

Red card in soccer

Although a top-rated player like Lionel Messi has received a handful of red cards even after playing a lot of games. Some players just can’t control themselves on the soccer field.

Studies show that a team has 59% chances of losing, 23% chances of winning, and an 18% chance of drawing a game after receiving a red card.

When a player gets too many red cards, they begin to lose ratings and might find it difficult when trying to switch clubs.

Accumulating a lot of red cards paints a soccer player in a bad light. Other players would find it uncomfortable playing with them and coaches wouldn’t want to use them in crucial games.

Columbia’s Gerardo Alberto Bedoya Munera holds the record for the highest red cards received by a player in the history of soccer. He holds a record of 46 red cards received throughout his career.

Obviously, the more the number of red cards a player gets, the fewer the number of games they can play since a straight red card leads to a two-game ban—or three for dangerous tackles.


Soccer players must learn to play fair and play with reverence to existing rules and laws. They can avoid getting a red card even if they can’t avoid getting a yellow card.

Knowing how to avoid getting cards in soccer entirely depends on experience. Interestingly, if your goal is to become one of the greatest soccer players in history like Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, getting too many red cards can put a dent in your career.