The almost never-before-seen round red card in soccer causing a furor in England and its two explanations

A sending off in the eighth minute of any soccer match is rare, but if the referee pulls a round red card out of his pocket, everyone forgets the minute of the foul. So why did the referee pull out the circular red card?

It happened in the FA Cup clash between Brentford and Wolverhampton when Tony Harrington sent off Joao Gomes for a tackle on Christian Norgaard, and the controversy over the sending off gave way to disbelief over the form of the card shown.

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According to SPORTbible, which extracts the explanation from a refereeing forum, these round red cards (there are also oval ones) were introduced in soccer to help players who have a problem differentiating colors. So, even if the player suffers from a visual problem, he clearly understands that the rectangular card is yellow and the round one is red.

Previously, players, such as Thomas Delaney, have admitted that their color blindness has led to them being confused on the field and unable to differentiate their teammates when they’re looking downwards as they run with the ball.

“It’s hard to describe. It’s like seeing different shades of the same color,” the former Crystal Palace player said to DR P3 in 2018. “We usually play with different shorts, but this time [he said referring to Denmark-Mexico] they were both white, which made it even more complicated.

“What I did was just look at the faces, but I had to do it very quickly so as not to lose the ball. When people are close you can distinguish them well, but when the pace is high, and they are further away it’s a bit difficult.”

Referee Uriah Rennie shows the red to Roy Keane.

Referee Uriah Rennie shows the red to Roy Keane.Getty Images

The other explanation, also explained in various forums, is of a method to avoid confusion from the referees themselves. In order not to make a mistake when sending off a player, an action that can determine a match, some referees prefer to carry a round red card.

This makes it easier to distinguish it from the yellow one when taking it out of the pocket. One Reddit user tells of a rugby referee who gave him this explanation.

“He once wanted to give someone a yellow card,” the forum user posted. “But took out the red by mistake, so he changed his red card to a circle so he wouldn’t make the same mistake again.”

Has it happened before?

Fans didn’t even care that the game in Wolverhampton finished 1-1 and went to a replay as they, on social media, claimed they’ve never witnessed anything like it, but even if we had never seen it, it is not the first time it has happened…

Just one year ago, in January 2023, during Wrexham and Sheffield United’s FA Cup match,Dean Whitestone also showed a circular red card to Daniel Jebbison, also causing a wave of strangeness among fans. Going back even further, Uriah Rennie, the first black referee to officiate a Premier League match in 1997, also used them.

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