Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 32425

Law 5 - The Referee 5/6/2018

RE: Competitive High School

Matt Swanson of Hubbard, Oregon USA asks...

I'm a coach, parent and referee...but for this question my observation comes as a parent. My son (15 yoa) plays in a high school aged competitive spring league. In a particular game the fouls and misconduct were especially unchecked by the referee and the game got out of hand. At one point he pulled out a paper notebook...showed it to a player and said 'this is a yellow card.' But it wasn't, it was a notebook. The game was played under Oregon Highschool rules so the player has to leave until the next dead ball. Then there was a challenge the referee decided warranted a yellow card and pulled out a notebook again and said 'this is a yellow card.' A few moments later their was a free kick and the players in the wall began shoving each other which resulted in one player shoving someone in the face and the referee told him 'this is a red card.' My question is to the validity of the cards since the cards weren't actually shown. It appears the referee left his cards at home.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matt
Thanks for the question.
Cards are only one part of the caution process and it is the visble part which conveys the decision to the player, the other players, coaching staff and spectators.
The fact that the actual card is not shown does not negate the sanction. So it would have been more than clear with the players having to leave the field of play under NFHS rules that the players were in fact cautioned and the player that was not replaced with his team playing short was in fact dismissed.
Have a look at this video
The referee forgot his yellow card and he informed the player of the caution and showed an imaginary yellow card. Not good practice yet it did not negate the sanction which was given verbally. .
I am around long enough to have played the game when there were no cards and the referee simply spoke to the player and informed him of his decision.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Matt,
no matter the referee's impact, players and coaches still have a duty to act responsibly. We use cards as a tool ,to forget a tool is not efficient, but it need not stop the game. It appears the referee did what he could to indicate the sanctions. As my colleague points out we been there done that. A long as the sanctions are recorded in the match report and the referee tried his best to indicate to the teams when they were in effect.


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Matt,
Cards are only the visible, outer indication of the sanction decided on by the referee. The fact that no actual card was shown does not affect the legality of the sanction. Red and yellow cards were first used in the 1970 World Cup but were not officially adopted as part of the Laws of the Game until 1992. I'm not sure exactly when the NFHS started using them.

In any event, although a referee is supposed to show the appropriately-coloured card when issuing a caution or sending a player off, the disciplinary sanction is still valid whether the card is shown or not.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32425
Read other Q & A regarding Law 5 - The Referee

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.