Soccer is set to trial sin bins at the higher levels of the game in a bid to improve player behavior towards match officials – a move that has drawn a mixed response.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the sport’s lawmaking body, announced on Monday that sin bins should be trialed “for dissent and specific tactical offences” having been successfully implemented at a grassroots level.
Unlike a red card, this would see player leave the pitch for a set period of time and return to the match later on, similar to the 10-minute sin bin successfully introduced to rugby more than 20 years ago.
As part of further measures aimed at improving player conduct, the IFAB also supported a proposed trial for only team captains to approach the referee “in certain major game situations.”
Speaking at the IFAB’s Annual Business Meeting in London, former referee Pierluigi Collina, the chairman of global governing body FIFA’s referees committee, said: “The trial was very successful in grassroot competitions. We are now talking of bringing it to a higher level.
“That was a great experience, but an experience with kids. Now, we are talking of a higher level – very probably professional, or even high professional football.”
The announcement has been supported by Ref Support UK, a charity representing the interests of match officials, which called the changes “positive.”
It added: “This is a major positive step forward in addressing poor behaviour in our game. Well done to all involved.”
Meanwhile, former England and Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, now a pundit for Sky Sports, wrote on X, formerly Twitter: “I’ve never been a fan of sin bins before, but we are watching too many games that have cards & for me it ruins the game … Totally for only allowing the captain to talk to the referee, I do know that’s very hypocritical coming from me!!”
But not everyone is in favor of sin bins. Former Chelsea captain John Terry wrote on X: “I personally don’t like it because the level of tolerance and inconsistencies from referees will differ every week.”
Terry added that he could see teams becoming more defensive after being reduced to 10 men, making a match less entertaining as a result.
Others pointed to the fact that, given the controversy around handball and video assistant referee (VAR) decisions, the sport would only be adding another layer of complexity to its laws with the introduction of sin bins.
“Considering football can’t decide what is clear and obvious from one week to the next, sin bins and the threshold for being banished to one have no chance,” CNN Senior Sports Analyst Darren Lewis wrote on X.
Speaking at Monday’s IFAB meeting, Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the English Football Association, explained how sin bins would be awarded for “a foul that prevents a promising attack” when a player “does it consciously knowing that they’re going to get a yellow card,” as well as for dissent.
He continued: “The success of sin bins in the grassroots game has been prevention, rather than cure. You get to a point where players know the threat of sin bins and therefore don’t transgress.”
The IFAB said that any proposed changes to soccer’s laws will be considered for approval on March 2 next year, and those that are approved will be incorporated into the laws from July 1.