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Serie B set to launch new ‘green card’ scheme to help promote fair play in Italy



Serie B is set to launch an innovative new scheme this weekend to help promote fair play in football.

With the sport so often blighted by accusations of gamesmanship or simulation, Italy’s second division is moving to counteract this trend by rewarding players for ‘conspicuous acts of sportsmanship’ and other ‘acts of virtue’.

According to Italian newspaper La Stampa, a new ‘green card’ will be used by referees to signal when a player has done something worthy of praise rather than punishment.

As of this weekend, Serie B referees will be able to hand out ‘green cards’ to reward sportsmanship

Paolo Di Canio catches the ball to allow Paul Gerrard (not pictured) to receive treatment during a game in 2001

Robbie Fowler (right) tries to convince the ref to overturn his call to reward a penalty as he wasn’t fouled

It is hope the scheme will ‘highlight those who help to make the game a game and not a battle of primal instincts.’

Red and yellow cards will still be dished out for fouls and dissent but the green card will be shown for acts such as knocking the ball out of play to allow an injured player to receive medical treatment.

There is no in-match reward for earning a green card, such as a free-kick or penalty, but referees will note the players who receive the most over the course of a season.

A list of the division’s ‘most correct’ players will then be compiled, though what incentive there is to feature on that list is yet to be revealed.

The scheme has been created in response to a directive from UEFA to promote fair play in football and has already been used in Italian youth leagues.



West Ham star Paolo Di Canio famously caught a cross instead of scoring into an empty goal to allow Everton keeper Paul Gerrard to receive treatment. Gerrard lay on the floor injured and Di Canio’s act of sportsmanship was applauded by all.


Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler went over in the box under a challenge from Arsenal’s David Seaman but when referee Gerald Ashby pointed to the spot, the Liverpool striker appealed for him to overturn the decision as there was no contact. The ref, however, ignored.


In a Carling Cup tie between Plymouth and Yeovil in August 2004, Lee Johnson scored accidentally after kicking the ball to Pilgrims keeper Luke McCormick, who was off his line. Yeovil boss Gary Johnson allowed Plymouth’s Steve Crawford to run through and score from the centre.

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