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banner Friday, 23 February, 2001, 15:02 GMT
Well done, have a green card
BBC Sport Online looks at a new proposal for referees to hand out green cards for good play
BBC Sport Online's Mike Burnett looks at a new idea for referees to become the bringers of good tidings with a green card

Gerard Depardeiu wanted one to stay in America, and now footballers could be demanding them too.

At a five-a-side tournament in the darkest depths of Wembley, referees will be showing off green cards, as well as red and yellow ones.

It seems there is an idea to make football's regular scapegoat into Mr Nice Guy.

Armed with his new green card, the referee will be able to reward that fantastic save, that perfectly-timed tackle, or that 30-yard scorcher.

The idea came from a participant in next week's competition, Simon Sanders, who was fed up with referees getting so much stick.

"It's a good opportunity for them," said Sanders.

If a referee awards a penalty, does he get a green card from the player?
  Roger Milford
former Premiership referee
"Refs are of course often perceived as quite a negative bunch, whereas with our new green cards, they will have the opportunity to reward players for their contributions to the beautiful game."

Sanders reckons this is just the beginning for his idea, and it is only a matter of time before it takes off.

"All improvements to the game start somewhere, trialled in some minor league or tournament so who is to say this might not catch on in time."

Certainly it could add an element of surprise to the world's favourite sport.

For example, a defender makes a last-ditch tackle, and the referee reaches for his pocket, will he penalise the player with a booking, a sending-off or will he commend him with a green?


Former Premiership referee Roger Milford likes the principle of it, but is not so sure how it would work.

"It encourages sportsmanship, but how far down the line does it go?" said Milford.

"If a referee awards a penalty, does he get a green card from the player?"

Some might argue that the umpires of football have enough on their plate without making things more complicated.

While bookings take place during stoppage of play, such as after a foul, it is not that clear how he is expected to hand out the green cards.

6 Jan 2001: Referee Alan Wiley books a Dagenham & Redbridge player
Ref: "Don't look so sad, I gave you two greens earlier"
Will he blow his whistle as a player approaches a one-on-one situation with the keeper to congratulate him on his mazy-like dribble?

Or will he have his head in his notebook, frantically jotting down names of players to commend after the game, just as a controversial goal is scored?

Finally, there is the question of tailoring - where will the ref store these new cards in his sleek black outfit?

It seems that this ground-breaking idea has a long way to go before the Premiership starts to consider it as a serious option.

But referees can take heart from the fact that someone is thinking about them positively for once.

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