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Question Number: 32269

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/3/2018

RE: Competitive Adult

Peter Babbage of Hjorring, Denmark asks...

Having issued a caution ( yellow card) can a referee then change his mind and decide it was more serious and send the player off?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
As play has not restarted a referee can change his / her mind and upgrade it to a dismissal. However it is not good practice as the dosmissed player and his team will feel that the referee has been influenced by outside factors such as the opponents which is never a good place to be.
I recall in a Championship game between Middlesbrough and Brighton Referee Mike Dean arrived at a challenge and he had a yellow card in his hand having taken it out of his shorts pocket to caution the player. When he saw the extent of the injury to the players shin he put the card away and produced a red card. Now he did not show the yellow card yet he was heavily criticized for the way that he handled it rather than the decision itself
It is more usual for an upgrade based on further information from an assistant drawing the referees attention to either a misapplication of the law or something else that was unseen. For instance the referee could caution a player to be told by an assistant referee that the player had spat at the player in the confrontation which the referee missed. That has to be punished by a red card.
Once play has restarted then a change of decision is not possible even after review by a League retrospectively. In the case of VAR there are many examples of upgrades to red.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
the use of cards as a tool to send a message or set a bar of acceptable or unacceptable behaviour needs to be tempered by the match dynamics, a moment of reflection and the skillful use of your ARs and 4th input to flesh out the need to use either colour! Given the pros now have the VAR it adds an even greater dimension.

A referee can indeed choose to change the card colour as long as play has not yet restarted but as my colleague Ref McHugh indicated it could be a very
bad idea to change a yellow to a red card given the perceived bias that are bound to be in effect an the dissent or repercussions it could create.

That said IF additional info came to light or if a card colour was hastily but forth. I recall a recent match the referee showed red card and sent off the player for DOGSO and awarded a PK . The LOTG now permit the offending player to be cautioned and remain if the challenge was reasonable inside the PA. The AR who was more aware of the recent law changes convinced the CR to change the card colour as the challenge was only careless and the PK GIVES the scoring opportunity. .

Admittedly SOME situations scream a card is required! The referee will reach in the pocket to pull out a card and could grab the wrong colour. I support a red card in the back pocket and a yellow card in the front shirt pocket. In my booking wallet I have both colours. So if I am CONSIDERING what colour as I write I can choose possibly based on attitude, further evidence and a finalized gut check of all the evidence. As in the evaluation period unless you are trying to intervene in a way as to head off retaliation take a breath and think carefully to what card or colour is needed and what message is necessary for the good of the match.


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