Sin Bin yellow card

#MCRef: Sin Bin 101

Daniel Amaro
The introduction of temporary dismissals in football will look to clean up the image of game.

For a long time, the behaviour of football players has been criticised with comparison to the highly effective disciplinary action seen in rugby, raising questions of how football can reduce the behaviour we all want to see expelled. The introduction of temporary dismissals in football will look to clean up the image of game.

Dissent: Dissent can be committed by word or action and is down to the opinion and judgement of the Referee. This is seen as a behavioural issue and is not associated with the playing of the game. Common instances of dissent include; kicking the ball away in frustration, swearing at the referee or gesturing inappropriately towards the referee/opposing players.

1. Why has it been introduced?

 In March of 2017, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) decided to introduce a system intended to punish selected cautions through the use of temporary dismissals (Sin Bins). Consequently, national associations were offered the opportunity to select which cautions are to be punished in this way. The FA in England will introduce temporary dismissals for all dissent committed by active players from the beginning of the 2019/20 season, believing that these further disciplinary actions will improve the football experience for all involved. 

Additionally, sin bins will support the FA’s RESPECT Campaign which continues to work towards improving behaviour within the game. Looking ahead to the 2019/20 season, all grassroots level football, including youth, will introduce the temporary dismissal for dissent offences. 

2. What is a Sin Bin? 
Where previously a player would have been awarded a caution (Yellow Card) for dissent and able to continue to play, now, upon receiving a dissent caution, a player will be required to leave the field of play for 10 minutes of a 90 minute match, or 8 minute s for any other match duration.

Previously, upon receiving yellow card, a player also incurred a £10 fee after the match. However the concept of the sin bin is to serve the punishment immediately with a direct impact on the game, affecting both the player and their teammates. This will force players to think about their actions and conduct during a match and the implications of missing part of the game. 

3. How do I get a ‘Sin Bin’?
The below describes a scenario in which a Sin Bin will be used to deal with an act of dissent.

A defender attempts to win the ball from an attacking player, but in doing so makes a lunging challenge inside the penalty area. The referee blows their whistle and points to the penalty spot. The defenders’ frustration leads to them arguing with the Referee and as a result, the ref informs the player that they are being cautioned for dissent and points to the touchline. Once off the field of play, they face 10 minutes in the Sin Bin, where they are unable to be substituted until the 10 minutes is up. 

Note: the 10/8 minutes is of active play. Stoppages during your dismissal will not account towards your 10/ 8 minutes off the pitch. Any remaining time from a dismissal in the 1st half will carry over into the 2nd half, or in to extra time if appropriate.

Contrary to popular belief, there will be no 'naughty step' concept where a player would be isolated from their teammates (as seen in Rugby). The player is allowed to join their teammates on the substitute bench. Once the dismissal time is up, the referee will then signal for a player to return to the match away from active play. 

Sin Bins are only to be used with incidents of dissent, so if a player makes a reckless challenge this would constitute a ‘normal football offence’ and a yellow card would still be awarded. This is because this an example of a physical action within the play of the game, opposed to a behavioural action that is unrelated to the game.

4. How does a Sin Bin affect other misconduct? 

 The introduction of sin bins will now change the way in which the actions of players will be dealt with and sin bin offences will be recorded towards a player’s overall misconduct charges. 

This new form of disciplinary action is intended to reduce the repetition of dissenting behaviour. We’ll now break down further situations that could happen on the field of play, following a temporary dismissal:

If a temporarily dismissed player: 

• Commits another Yellow card/ Red Card offence during the Sin Bin period, they cannot return to the game or be substituted.
• Commits a non - dissent caution at any time on the field of play in addition to the sin bin, they will be awarded a yellow card and continue to play.
• Commits a 2nd dissent caution (and no other offences) will receive a 2nd period in the Sin Bin. At the end of the period, the player can take no further part in the game but CAN be substituted. 
• Commits a 2nd dissent action and has ALREADY had a non - Dissent caution will take no further part in the game and CANNOT be substituted. 

5. Will this work?

With every new law and regulation being implemented there are always a more than a handful of critics. The FA has conducted a pilot scheme across 31 grassroots leagues which included 135,000 matches. Incredibly, they saw a reduction in dissent of 38%. After speaking to Referees, players Managers/ Coaches across the leagues within the pilot:
• 72% of Players wanted to continue with the use of Sin Bins
• 77% of Managers/ Coaches wanted to continue with the use of Sin Bins
As a result, The FA decided to roll this out across all grassroots leagues up to and including Step 5 of National League System. 

Referees also had their fair share of scepticism when considering the introduction on temporary dismissals, chief among which being the concern of having multiple players in the sin bin at one time. 
However, the research conducted over the 135,000 matches showed this is highly unlikely to be an issue: 
• Average Dissent Caution count - 0.46 /Game
• Caution - every 2.16 matches
• Where dissent exists - 1.356/ per game.
• < 1% of matches have more than 3 cautions for dissent
Despite this initial concern, 84% of referees wanted to continue with the use of sin bins following the pilot.

The FA
For those who believe this is just ‘another money-making scheme by the FA' , sin bin offences will not incur a standard £10 fee as seen with all other offences. Based on previous season’s figures, this could cost The FA around £735,000 nationally per year. 


In summary, the tried and tested use of sin bins will look to target and deal with  player behaviour on a match day, resulting in a direct impact on both the individual and their team. This new form of in-game disciplinary action should help to encourage football be enjoyable, for all. 

If you have any questions on temporary dismissals, please email: