What is a “White Card” in a football match? 

Football is a sport that has a huge fan base all around the world. However, with time, there has been a need for changes to be introduced within the sport to make it more entertaining and to attract a new audience. The introduction of the white card is one of the few innovations that football has incorporated thus far. In this article, we will delve deeper into the topic of the white card, trying to understand what it is and how it works.

White Card: What is it and What is it For?

For some time now, there has been talk of the white card in football. But what exactly is it? First and foremost, when we see it, we must forget the term “penalty.” Unlike a yellow or red card, a white card does not want to punish the player who receives it. Instead, its purpose is to underline a nice gesture of fair play within the match.

For instance, imagine if Diego Armando Maradona had admitted on the pitch in 1986 that he had scored with his hand against England in the quarterfinals of the World Cup. In that scenario, the referee could have drawn the white card against him.

But what do players get for receiving a white card? Nothing, at least not at the moment. There are currently no bonuses for those who see the new card waved in front of their eyes, except for some applause and the respect of many people. The idea of FIFA and UEFA is to reward gestures that help football become more fair and positive. Football, especially, is always surrounded by toxic attitudes, which, consequently, cause unpleasant moments. Perhaps, in this way, the will of the protagonists on the field to be more inclined to fair play will increase.

The White Card in Football: The Idea Behind It

So how did the idea of the white card come about? The first to propose it was Michel Platini, who wanted to introduce a mini-penalty similar to the one seen in sports such as water polo within football. The white card had to be a temporary expulsion (about 5–10 minutes), which would have penalized an entire team for a fraction of the game. But how would one choose when to extract it? What is the meeting point between the yellow card and the red card? All unsportsmanlike gestures. Platini, in fact, would have used the color white to punish gestures such as wasting time, simulations, protests against the referee, etc.

When Was the White Card Used in Football?

The white card has already been used once, in the women’s football super derby between Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. The match referee, Catarina Campos, waved it on two occasions during the ninety minutes of play, both towards the benches of the two teams. The doctors of the two teams were the ones to be rewarded because, during the match, they left the playing field to go and help a fan who had fallen ill in the stands. A nice gesture that, in a tense atmosphere like that of a derby, was appreciated and underlined by the white card.


In conclusion, the white card represents an interesting innovation within football, a sport that is always in search of new tools to increase fairness and sportsmanship. While it is not yet clear how the white card will be used in the future, it is an encouraging sign that the highest authorities in football are thinking about ways to encourage good behavior on and off the field. Hopefully, the use of the white card will inspire players, coaches, and fans alike to strive for a cleaner, more positive version of the game.