Carding Soccer Coaches, 5 Things You Should Know

As you may already know, soccer uses the yellow and the red cards as a way to punish players on the field if any of these players does something that requires a punishment.

But what about the coaches of the soccer teams and their assistants? How are they punished when they break the rules during a soccer game?

If you have watched at least one soccer match in your life, I’m one hundred percent sure that you have seen the coaches of the 2 competing teams standing near the sideline (touchline) of the field shouting and giving instructions to their team players.

While this kind of behavior by the soccer coaches is usually acceptable since the soccer field is very large and they’ll have to shout and make gestures for their players to notice them, sometimes, the coaches take it to another level when they get angry, and during these situations, the referee has the full authority to do something about it.

Can coaches get yellow or red cards in soccer?

A few years back, the referee was only allowed to give a yellow card or a red card to the players of each team. However, the rules have changed in the last few years to include the “team officials” to the list of the people who can get carded by the referees.

Law 12 of the game states that only the players on the field, the substitute players, and the team officials may be shown a yellow or a red card by the referee. The coach and their assistant are considered to be two of the “team officials”.

In other words. The referee is allowed to give a soccer coach (also known as soccer manager) a yellow card or a red card when they violate the rules.

soccer referee on the field

This doesn’t mean that the referee couldn’t do anything against the coaches before the new rule was introduced.

Before introducing the rule that allows a referee to card a coach, the referee had the right to send the coach off the field if they misbehaved during the game. However, introducing the carding rule for the coaches (Managers) makes the rules more consistent and more formal.

In other words, instead of asking the coach to leave the sideline, a referee can raise the red card in front of the coach and the coach will know that they are requested to leave the sideline immediately. More on what happens when a coach gets a red card later in this article.

Why is carding the coaches necessary in soccer?

You might think that a team’s coach has no effect on the flow of the game as they are required to remain outside the field all the match and they have nothing to do with the flow of the game.

While this is usually the case, some coaches cross a lot of red lines when they get angry, and if the soccer rules do not punish them for their actions, the game will be affected.

For example, some coaches have tried to interfere with the game by throwing things inside the soccer field or by going inside the field and stopping their opponent. Other coaches have used offensive language and disrespected other people on the field.

As you can tell, these kinds of behaviors should definitely be punished by the rules or else some coaches will keep taking it to a whole new level and that will affect soccer in general.

What happens if a soccer coach gets a yellow card?

Giving a yellow card to a coach is exactly like giving a yellow card to any other player on the field. In other words, the yellow card will act as a warning to the coach and as a chance for them to control their behavior on the field before it gets too late.

So a yellow card by itself will not hurt the coach a lot, but it will let them know that they are very close to getting a red card and that they should control their actions immediately.

During a full soccer season, if a coach receives a lot of yellow cards during different matches, then they will face consequences. The more yellow cards they receive, the heavier the consequences become.

Here’s a table of what exactly happens when soccer coaches get an x number of cards during the same season in some soccer leagues around the world.

Number of yellow cards in a seasonConsequences 
4 yellow cards1-match ban
8 yellow cards2-match ban
12 yellow cards3-match ban
16 yellow cardsSit in front of a disciplinary panel
Consequences of the cumulative yellow cards

If you are wondering what a match-ban for a coach looks like, it’s just that the coach will not be allowed to stand close to the touchline and be next to their team’s players during the match. Instead, they should watch the game from the audience seats like any other fan who paid for a ticket to watch the game.

Note that these rules might vary per soccer league, however, most of the soccer leagues around the world have rules to prevent coaches from misbehaving during a game.

What does a red card for a coach (manager) mean?

If a coach receives a red card (or 2 yellow cards) during a soccer match, then they are required to leave the touchline of the field immediately.

Usually, the coach will leave the field and go watch the game from one of the fans’ seats in the stadium.

In other words, if the coach gets a red card, then they should not be seen anywhere near the field so that they can’t disrupt the game and the referee till the rest of the game.

Who makes the team’s decisions after their coach is sent off the field?

As you may already know, the coach of a soccer team is the one who decides what formation the team should use and who gets substituted during the game and so on.

But if the coach gets sent off, who makes these decisions? Well, it’s either the coach themselves or their assistant.

It’s true that the coach is sent off, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t communicate with another team official that is still standing next to the touchline of the field.

The coach will usually call the assistant coach and tell them what they should do next. For example, they may tell their assistant to substitute a player, or ask them to inform the players that they need to change their formation and so on.

When do coaches get yellow/red cards cards in soccer?

We’ve talked a lot about what happens when a coach gets a yellow/red card, but we haven’t discussed why they get them yet.

A coach may get a yellow card for doing any of the following actions:

  • Delaying the restart of the match
  • Throwing or kicking water bottles or any other objects
  • Making disrespectful gestures
  • Insisting that the referee gives a yellow/red card to the opponent

There are other actions that can cause the coach to get a yellow card, but these are the most common ones.

A coach may get a red card for doing any of the following actions:

  • Delaying the restart of the match either by holding onto the ball or kicking the ball away or interfering with the movement of any player on the field
  • Acting in a provocative manner
  • Entering the field to face the referee or to interfere with the game
  • Having an aggressive behavior
  • Using offensive language or insults
  • Using violence

These are the most common ways a coach may get a red card during a soccer game.

With this said, I will end my article here. Here’s a quick summary of what you have just read.


A referee can give a yellow card or a red card to a coach like they give cards to any other player on the field. If a coach gets a red card, they get sent off the field. When the coach gets sent off, they can still communicate with their assistant referee by calling them on the phone or by other means.