In announcing his bid to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA President in 2015, Jerome Champagne has provoked much discussion with his idea of introducing orange cards as an extra disciplinary measure for offending footballers. He has suggested that the card could be introduced for ‘in-between heat-of-the-moment fouls’ immediately following a yellow card, which would also entail a visit to the sin bin. Perhaps his idea of an additional card is a valid argument but the colour and reasoning may not be the most appropriate.
Among Champagne’s other proposals are dissent restricted to the captain, a quota for foreign players and abolishing the triple punishment for a defender when awarding a penalty kick. However, it is notion of the orange card which has attracted most publicity and one which may correctly stir some debate among a wide football audience.
An extra card and potential sin bin may actually be warranted in today’s game but not for the reason outlined by Champagne. One of the curses of modern day football is the continual diving by players in their attempts to win a penalty, a form of behaviour which is closely followed in its unprofessionalism by acting performances designed with the objective of forcing the referee to dismiss an opponent.
Sin-binning for such offences may be initial step towards removing these cheating offences from the playing field and if a card needs to be used to define such actions, why not use a colour which is clearly discernible from a distance.
Orange is a mixture of red and yellow and while the idea does warrant some merit on principle, spectators sitting in the upper tiers of a football stadium may unable to distinguish an orange from a red card. A blue card would be much more visible.
Furthermore, a blue card with a resulting punishment of 15 minutes confined to the sin bin could still bear the same validity as a yellow card in terms of a double leading to a red card, and with regard to accumulations leading to future suspensions.
It will also be necessary for referees to be clear in their own minds as to what constitutes a blue card (or orange card) to avoid any uncertainty on the pitch and endless discussion by studio panellists arising from such incidents.
Jerome Champagne may not even win the FIFA presidency election in June 2015, especially if the present incumbent Sepp Blatter decides to stand for a fifth term, but at least he has introduced some concrete ideas worth debating.
If such debates centre upon the real problems on the pitch and a new card is introduced for these distasteful offences, then Champagne’s proclamations will have been worth the effort.