Red cards and yellow cards have become so synonymous with football that even the people who don’t watch the sports can instantly understand its meaning. Yellow means a warning, red means you are heading for the tunnel.
Cards are a way of communication between the referee and the players, but it wasn’t always like that.
Now, before the cards existed players were still cautioned and even sent off. Referees still had the authority to take these decisions.
So, why was there a need for cards and how exactly did cards pave their way into football?
The answer to that question has a very interesting story!
A] The problem
It was the 1962 World Cup match between Chile and Italy, which was forecasted as being a fiery affair. The match did live up to its expectations, and the mediator amidst this battle was an English referee Ken Aston.
Now during the match, an incident occurred, because of which Ken decided to send off the Italian player, Giorgio Ferrini.
But, due to the communication barrier, the player did not understand what Ken had to say and he refused to leave.
This incident stayed with Ken Aston even when he retired as a referee in 1963.
He was then asked to join FIFA’s Referees’ Committee, which led to his overseeing the referees for the 1966 World Cup.
During a match between Argentina and England, he had to calm down Argentina’s captain, Rattn, after he’d been sent off. However, it was a report in the media the next day that reminded him of the communication problems he’d had four years before.
The match referee was said to have reprimanded both Bobby and Jack Charlton, however, the referee had not stated this publicly.
this communication issue was the problem in football matches.
Now whether it be a language barrier or lack of clarity there was a need for a solution that will make the decisions crystal clear to the players, fans, and media alike.
The communication issues were the reasons which gave birth to the innovation of cards in football.
B] The story:
Ken Aston kept thinking about these moments and was wondering what the solution might be, and then one day he found his Eureka moment while driving down the streets of London.
He stopped at a signal as it hit red. And then it struck him that, yellow means ‘take it easy’ and red means ‘stop’.
He applied the same logic in football and the yellow card and red card took birth!
Driving down the streets of London, Ken Aston gave football, an integral contribution.
C] When they were introduced
Once the cards were put in use in football matches, there were problems.
Now with any new introduction, it takes time for the fans, players, clubs to adapt to the new process. The cards were no different.
During the 70s and 80s when the cards were introduced, there was confusion on when actually to use them. referees started using them as toys and sent players off, for any offense they felt, crossed the line.
Part of the issue was also that the referee wanted to exhibit power, and it was a bit of a show-off move as well.
Eventually, things started settling and over the years the decision-making improved.
Ken Aston provided an integral contribution to modern football.
The cards act as a visual representation that leaves no gap in communication, it has made decision-making simple, crisp, and crystal clear!