How Many Red Cards Can You Get in Soccer?

Red cards are used to discipline players and team officials for various offenses. But how many red cards can you get in soccer? We have the answers.

There’s no limit to the number of red cards that you can get in a soccer game since both players and team officials can get red cards. However, if more than five on-field players of the same team receive red cards on the pitch, the match will be abandoned and a walkover given to the opponent.

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How Many Red Cards Can You Get in Soccer?


Soccer is an entertaining sport. And, this explains why it has been ranked as the most popular sport in the world. But, occasionally, the game may descend into chaos, within a matter of seconds.

When this happens, the referee is allowed to undertake various disciplinary measures, to prevent the situation from getting out of hand. And, one of the measures that a referee is allowed to take is to issue red cards to the offending player. But, how many red cards can you get in a game of soccer?

In this guide, we will walk you through what a red card is in soccer, how you can get a red card in soccer, as well as the offenses that may lead to a red card in soccer. We will also take a closer look at how many red cards you can get in soccer.

About the Red Card in Soccer

So, what does a red card mean in soccer? In soccer, a red card is used to discipline players for various offenses. Usually, the referee will hold up a red card to the offending player, showing everyone who is watching the decision that has been made as well as the consequences for the offending player.

A red card is the most serious punishment that soccer referees can give. However, we should point out that the consequences of that red card extend beyond that game. For instance, a player may end up being suspended for a game or several upcoming games following that red card.

How You Can Get a Red Card in Soccer

Whenever a player commits a serious infraction or foul during a game, the referee can issue them with either a yellow card or a direct red card. If you commit a mistake that the referee considers serious enough to warrant dismissal, you will get a straight red card and be dismissed from the field of play.

On the other hand, if you commit a less serious mistake, you may get a yellow card and a warning. If you commit yet another serious offense when you are already on a yellow card, the referee will issue you with a second yellow card.

And after issuing you with a second yellow card, they will immediately show you a red card and dismiss you from the field of play. Therefore, two yellow cards amount to a red card. Simply put, you can get either a direct or an indirect red card, depending on the offense you’ve committed and the situation.

Offenses That May Lead to a Red Card in Soccer

Well, there are several offenses, which may prompt a referee to issue a red card to a player. First, a referee can issue a straight red card to a player for violent conduct, a serious foul, denying a goal-scoring opportunity deliberately using their hand, and spitting at a person.

Second, a player can also get a direct red card for using abusive or insulting language to another player, a spectator, a match official, the other team’s bench or any other person around the pitch. Getting a second yellow card will also lead to a red card as we pointed out earlier.

What Happens If a Player Gets a Red Card in Soccer?

Whenever a player gets a red card during a soccer game, they will be sent off from the field of play. And, they are required to leave the field right away. In short, they can’t participate in the game in any way.

Also, the red-carded player is required to leave both the vicinity of the field as well as the technical area. Therefore, the player can’t go to the bench or technical area and sit with the substitutes, officials or coaches.

Essentially, red-carded players are required to proceed to the changing room and wait there. The referee will then restart the game after the player has completely left the vicinity of the field.

How Many Red Cards Can You Get in Soccer?

We’ve so far determined that a referee can issue red cards during a soccer game if the players commit certain offenses or the game descends into chaos. And, this raises yet another question, how many red cards can you get in soccer?

The reality is that there’s no limit to the number of red cards that you can get in soccer. However, if the referee issues five red cards, then the match will have to be abandoned. According to soccer rules, a team can’t continue playing if it has fewer than seven players on the pitch.

So, if the referee issues five red cards to the same team, then the game will have to be abandoned immediately. When this happens, the opponent will be awarded a 3-0 walkover.

The reason why we mentioned that there is no maximum number of red cards that can be issued in a soccer game is that the coach, the substitutes, the physiotherapists, the doctors, and other members of the team can also get red cards for various offenses. 

Key Takeaways

  • Red cards are used during soccer games to discipline players and team officials for various offenses
  • Referees can issue red cards to players and team officials for bad behavior and general misconduct during a game
  • When issued with a red card, players are expected to leave the vicinity of the playing field immediately
  • There’s no limit to the number of red cards that you can get in soccer

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