What Happens if a Soccer Goalie Gets a Red Card?

A red card is a soccer manager’s nightmare. Soccer managers/coaches spend endless nights preparing strategies and formations for a soccer game. However, one red card can ruin the whole strategy. What makes it worse is if the player who receives the red card is the goalie themselves.

So, what exactly happens if a soccer goalie gets a red card?

When a goalie receives a red card during a soccer match, they are sent off the field like any other player. The goalie that receives the red card will either be replaced by a substitute goalie, or by one of the non-goalkeeper team players that are already on the field.

So, a goalkeeper is treated like any other player when it comes to red cards. The rules are simple, if you get a red card, you get out no matter what position you play at. The manager of the team has to deal with it.

If you don’t already know, soccer teams are only allowed to make 3 substitutions per a soccer match.

When a goalie receives a red card, the manager will have to use one of these substitutions to replace the keeper. In other words, the manager will take one player out and replace them with a substitute goalkeeper because a soccer team can’t continue without a goalkeeper obviously.

But what happens if the soccer manager has already used all the allowed substitutions? 

Well, guess what. One of the players on the field (an outfield player) will have to take the place of the goalkeeper. The chosen player takes the jersey and the gloves of the goalkeeper and replaces them till the rest of the match.

It’s rare that a non-goalkeeper player is forced to play as a goalie due to a red card, but it has happened multiple times in the history of soccer. When it happens, the goalie’s team will be extremely vulnerable because it’s very hard for a non-goalkeeper to do a good job as a goalkeeper in a soccer match.

Note that the goalkeeper doesn’t have to always get a red card to be forced to leave the game. If the goalkeeper gets seriously injured for example, and the team has no more substitutions left, then an outfield player might replace the goalie while they go seek medical care.

Even though an outfield player isn’t as good as a well trained goalie, some outfield players have managed to do a great job when they were forced to take the place of their team’s goalie.

When do goalkeepers get red cards?

Most goalies get their red cards due to extremely dangerous tackles that they make against their opponents.

When a goalie is in a one vs one situation with the opponent’s striker, the goalie will usually run towards the striker and tackle them in order to lower their chances of scoring. However, the tackle can sometimes go wrong and if the tackle was reckless, then the goalie gets a red card.

Goalkeepers can also get red cards due to offensive language against their opponents or against the referee of the match. They might also get a red card if they decide to hit one of the opponent players or the referee on purpose.

A goalie might also get a red card if they block the ball with their hands when it’s outside the penalty area. If the goalie stops a clear chance of scoring by committing a handball outside the penalty area, then they get a red card.

So as you can tell, a goalie is treated like any other player when they’re outside their penalty area. The only privilege that a soccer goalie has is that they can touch the ball with their hands when the ball is inside the penalty area. That’s it. 

As for the rest of the soccer rules, they apply on the goalkeeper the same way they apply on any other player. The goalkeeper can score a goal, can get a red card, can’t use their hands outside of the penalty area and so on.

How many games does a goalie miss for a red card?

The number of match suspensions will depend on the severity of the committed foul by the goalkeeper.

If you don’t already know, players who get a red card during a soccer match will be suspended from at least one of the coming matches of the league that they’re competing in.

For example, if a player gets a red card in Major League Soccer, then they aren’t allowed to play the next MLS game that their team competes in. However, they can play the next matches in other leagues.

Sometimes players are suspended for more than one game due to a red card.

Usually, if a goalkeeper gets a red card due to 2 yellow cards during the same game, then they’ll be suspended for only one match.

A goalie will also be suspended for one match if they get a red card due to a foul that isn’t very severe. However, goalies or any other players might get suspended for up to 3 games and even more if they commit a severe foul during a soccer game or if they intentionally hit their opponent out of anger or if they do any other action that is severely punished by the soccer rules.

With that said, I’ll end the article here. Here’s a summary of what you have just read.


Goalkeepers are treated like any other player on the field when it comes to red cards. When a goalkeeper gets a red card, they are sent off and replaced either by a substitute goalie or an outfield player from the remaining team players on the field.