A groundbreaking moment occurred in Portugal on Saturday (21 January) when a referee presented the first-ever white card in soccer. The scene was a women’s cup quarter-final game between Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. Benfica was leading 3-0 when the card was displayed, and the spectators in the Estadio da Luz reacted favorably to the sight.
Soccer supporters are familiar with the yellow and red cards that have been a part of the sport since the 1970 World Cup. But what is the significance of the recently-used white card, and why was it implemented during the game between Benfica and Sporting Lisbon?
Referee makes history by showing first ever ‘white card’ pic.twitter.com/7z4zxhZNeA
— SPORTbible (@sportbible) January 22, 2023
Fans of soccer have only recently been exposed to white cards, which are being implemented to reward teams for exhibiting exemplary behavior on the pitch. This is an attempt to encourage ethical practices and improve the overall atmosphere of the game. The white card is a part of several other measures that have been introduced in Portugal.
First-ever white card in soccer
A momentous occasion occurred in the Portuguese women’s cup match between Sporting Lisbon and Benfica when the white card was flashed for the first time in a professional soccer game. Referee Catarina Campos took advantage of the opportunity to use the new tool to commend an example of sportsmanship between the two rival teams in the Taca de Portugal cup tie.
On Sunday, at the Estadio da Luz, Benfica had a 3-0 lead over their Portuguese opponents when medical personnel from both teams rushed to help a fan who had passed out in the stands shortly before the 44th minute. The stadium was filled with enthusiastic applause for the decision made by Campos, as well as for the medics who went back to their benches after tending to the ill fan.
The players were initially perplexed when the referee reached into his pocket before Campos became the inaugural match official to show a card of any color besides red or yellow. Typically, cards are only distributed when poor behavior is exhibited, but this may change in the future.
Benfica went on to win the match 5-0, which will now be remembered in Portuguese soccer history, and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Women’s Cup. The white card is one of many novel regulations from FIFA that have been put into effect in the recent past, including the implementation of additional stoppage time to prevent time-wasting and concussion replacements, both of which were heavily employed at the men’s World Cup last year.