Portugal turns yellow too; Swedes not

Exactly 39 years ago, the first yellow cards were handed out in the Dutch national league. Seven were booked at the start of the 1972/1973 season, but media still struggle to figure out who got the card first.

Youngest Fifa referee at that moment, 31-year-old Jan Keizer from Volendam, announced one day before the tournament in De Telegraaf that ‘referees will hand out yellow cards much faster than they did before when referees just gave warnings’. They had to be more strict on ‘laying down an opponent’ and ‘not taking enough distance when you’re in the wall’.

Keizer was happy with the new measures. “They are fantastic, because they’re of importance for the real football lovers.” The Dutch talented referee stressed that referee’s decisions will differ, but that uniformity is the aim. “With all different characters there’ll be no hundred percent uniformity, but that’s what we strive for.”

These days referees give more cards than in the seventies, but there are many differences between countries. In the infographic below, you can see the ‘yellowest’ country based on data from Worldfootball.net and Futebol365.pt. How darker the tint, the more yellows are handed out. No data available of light blue countries. The chosen colour is green, because differences in yellow tints were unclear.

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Portugal was the country with most straight red cards, as you could read last week, and they also top the list of most yellow cards per match. With 5,22 p/m Portugese players are closely followed by the Spanish with 5,19 p/m.

Referees in Scandinavian countries booked the least players per match: Norway (2,3), Danmark (2,38), Finland (2,92) and Sweden (3,19).

It’s difficult to give an explanation fo that. Are referees in northern countries milder or do players behave better? In next weeks I’m going to take a look at the stats of Scandinavian referees in European competitions. That could give a possible explanation.

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