They have long been accused of gamesmanship and diving in hopes of drawing a penalty, but Italian soccer players will soon be able to get a different kind of recognition from the referees — a “green card” to recognize good sportsmanship and other “acts of virtue” on the pitch.
Soccer referees already carry a yellow and red card in their shirt pockets — yellow to warn and red to dismiss players for egregious violations of the rules. According to the Italian newspaper La Stampa, Italy’s Serie B professional league will add the green card to reward players who commit conspicuous acts of sportsmanship. The idea was first adopted in Italian youth leagues and could spread other professional leagues, the newspaper said.
There is no in-game reward for earning a green card, but the player’s name will be noted and a list of the “most correct” players will be compiled at the end of the season.
Green cards can be earned for such actions as sending a ball out of bounds to stop play when a player is injured; helping the referee make a correct call; and — curiously — admitting to having taken a dive in order to win a penalty kick.
The idea, according to Italian soccer officials, is to “highlight those who help to make the game a game and not a battle by primal instincts.”
The green card will be introduced into league game later this month. Some predict it will catch as have other recent innovations, including goal-line technology and spray-marking the line where defenders must stand on free kicks.