Soccer referee in Portugal shows white card

ZAdmittedly, the picture that the Portuguese referee Catarina Campos gave looked a bit whimsical. The referee held up a white card during a women’s soccer game. Not a yellow one, not a red one, but really a white one.

It looked a little as if Senhora Campos had picked up the wrong cardboard, a shopping list perhaps that she had mistakenly put in her work clothes and not in her casual clothes, which she intended to wear to a supermarket after the game.

Reward instead of punishment

But no, the referee did not accidentally pull out the white card in the cup derby between the Lisbon women’s teams Sporting and Benfica, but on purpose. Not to give a warning or send off a player, but to honor a fair gesture by team doctors. The doctors had immediately and successfully treated a player who had become ill on the substitutes’ bench shortly before the half-time break.

Fans may have been amazed in the stadium on Saturday, as were millions of football fans around the world who had never heard or seen anything about a white card. But the colorless card is neither new nor was it shown for the first time in football history, as quickly reported on the news ticker.

White cards have been common in Portuguese sports for years: badminton, hockey, tennis, rugby and many other sports, including football. The white card is not intended to punish unsportsmanlike behavior like the yellow or red card, but to promote “ethical values ​​in sport”. The approach is therefore a pedagogical one: reward instead of punishing.

The white card was introduced at the instigation of the Portuguese Institute for Youth and Sport and the National Plan on Ethics in Sport in the 2016/17 season, initially in the youth sector, to encourage young footballers to play fair in football and futsal. After only five years, more than 2000 white cards were distributed.

Anyone who behaves well in sport, for example by correcting a wrong decision by the referee, helping an ailing opponent back on his feet or accepting defeats without grumbling instead of getting upset or complaining about them, sees “white” as exemplary behavior.

Coaches, club representatives and spectators can also be rewarded in this way for respectful interaction with the sporting opponent. Anyone who collects a lot of white cards as an athlete or club and leads the fair play ranking after the season receives a special honor. By the way: Benfica won the game 5-0 in front of 15,032 spectators.



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