A new card was introduced during the Women’s Cup quarter-final encounter between Benfica and Sporting Lisbon in Portugal. The new card was a white card shown by Portuguese referee Catarina Campos.
While everyone is familiar with red and yellow cards, white cards are a recently introduced concept. According to the new initiative launched by Portugal’s National Plan for Ethics in Sport (PNED), the white card is shown to recognize acts of fair play on the field. The pilot project was implemented in the Portuguese leagues with the guidance of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF).
In addition to the pilot project, the Portuguese football authorities have adopted concussion substitutions as well as longer stoppage time which works as a deterrent for teams who try to waste time.
Sources say that the card could be introduced more widely, especially after extra stoppage time was added at the end of each half in the Qatar World Cup.
When the Benfica team was leading 3-0, an incident occurred just before half-time. It was reported that a fan had fainted in the stands. At the time, team medics from both sides rushed to the stands to handle the situation, and the spectator was given medical treatment within a few minutes. The white card was shown in appreciation for the medics.
It was the first time the white card got used in a match. So far, the response to the white card has been met with mixed results. When the referee first showed the white card, it received a positive reception from the crowd at the Estadio da Luz, with many cheering and applauding the decision. On social media, however, some fans couldn’t quite see the point of what is basically a symbolic gesture. One Twitter user commented: ‘Effectively means nothing as far as I can tell.’
Because of this, it is unlikely that the white cards will be brought into the Premier League anytime soon. For the time being, it will remain a Portuguese initiative only, so eyes will be trained on the nation’s domestic leagues to see how fans react to the white card over time.
While white cards are a new project, it is not a new idea. Before the launching of the white card initiative, the white card idea was proposed by former UEFA president Michel Platini. The proposed concept for the white card by Platini, however, was vastly different from the PNED’s.
Platini’s proposal involved the white card being used by the referee as a punishment for dissent. It would see the guilty player being suspended from the field of play for 10 minutes, similar to a rule in field hockey.
Reportedly, Platini proposed it to combat the “mania of challenging the referee” which “is spreading like a true epidemic in football.” The proposal, however, did not go further than a suggestion.
At the end of the Women’s Cup quarter-final between Benfica and Sporting Lisbon, the Benfica team had won 5-0. The Benfica’s next match will be against the Paços de Ferreira club on January 27 for the Primeira Liga.