Referee wallet: why you always need one during a game

Bjorn Kuipers says you always need a referee wallet with two cards in it. Always! A practical tip for referees at all levels.

Why do you think this is useful? (You’ll get the advice from Bjorn Kuipers below the picture, but please think about it yourself first.)

A referee wallet.

In Bjorn Kuipers’ right shorts pocket is his yellow card. His left chest pocket has a red card, but that’s not enough for Kuipers. In his other chest pocket he always has a referee wallet with both a yellow and red card. “Some cards are so clear, you don’t have any doubt about the colour”, says Kuipers. Reckless challenges or challenges to stop a promising attack will be punished with a yellow card. When a player is using excessive force and endangers the safety of an opponent, that’s when you’ll show a red.

But some challenge are not so clear, says Kuipers. That’s when the referee wallet comes in. “Take your referee wallet to every game”, says the Dutch Fifa referee. “Because it buys you time when you’re not 100% sure about the colour of the card.”

Stealing a yellow card

A few years back I showed you a video from players who stole cards from referees. The referee wallet is also useful to have an extra set of cards so you can still caution or red-card players if they steal your cards. Personally I have my yellow card in mu right shorts pocket and my red card in my back shorts pocket. Previously I put an extra yellow and an extra red in my right chest pocket, but now I put a referee wallet there. If you’re in doubt and take out both of the extra cards the players can see both already and it might confuse them. Keep them in your referee wallet and show the right card after you’ve made your decision.

Where do you put your cards? And how many cards do you take to your games? Please comment below.


  • BB

    This is great advice and something I haven’t considered.

    I believe there is a typo though and this should read ‘red’ card:

    “When a player is using excessive force and endangers the safety of an opponent, that’s when you’ll show a yellow” card.

  • Paul Cooper

    I have my book and cards in my shorts back pocket. A yellow in my right front pocket and red in my left front pocket. For a normal caution I will go to the back pocket. For a second caution I can go quickly to my front right pocket for the yellow and left front pocket for the red. Also if I need a quick red card to defuse a situation it’s in the front pocket.

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Never seen that tactic, but no wrong here of course. It’s a thing you should do based on what you like and what you’re used to. Thanks for commenting and sharing your way of using cards

  • Daan

    A late comment, I know, but I keep my yellow card in my left top pocket and my red card in my back pocket. My wallet is in my right top pocket.

  • Matthijs

    Yellow card in right shortpocket
    Red Card in left pocket behind the badge (or in the right pocket behind the zip in case i wear my purple nike referee shirt)
    Extra set of cards in wallet in the other pocket together with my notepad and 2 pens.

    Use this method for as long as i’m a referee wich is for over 8 years now

  • Jack Samuel

    Yellow card in right short pocket

    Yellow and red(used for second yellow cards) in shirt right pocket

    Wallet with spare cards and pen in left shirt pocket

    I have whistle on a lanyard attached to left hand with my watch on right hand

    If the game is going to be heated I have a yellow in the left pocket as well and carry my whistle

    • Jan ter Harmsel

      Hi Jack,

      You’ve got a YC and Red for 2nd yellows. Where have you put red for straight reds then?

      I’d personally would not have so many cards. Back-up is nice, but otherwise it concuses me. And before a game you won’t know it’s going to be a heated one. Curious on what basis you bring the YC in the left pocket beforehand.

      • Jack Samuel

        Apologies I mixed up what I used to do with what I do now.

        I used to have a YC in right short pocket.

        Yellow and red(Second yellows) shirt right

        Red in short back pocket

        Now I do yellow in right short

        Red in shirt left

        Wallet with spare cards in shirt right

        Yellow sometimes in left is rare but there is a couple of teams who are a bit aggressive and having that spare yellow sometimes helps.

  • Rory Stride

    Used to do yellow short pocket and red top left. Wallet short left.

    I changed due to the slight delay in getting the card out after whistling. Have whistle on lanyard on right hand.

    Now I use yellow top left and red back right. Brych and Turpin style

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