Can a Referee Take Back A Red Card? Here’s What You Need To Know

If you love the game of soccer, then you know that referees are a crucial part of it. But do you ever wonder whether a referee can take back a red card? Have you ever seen something like this happen on the field and thought to yourself, “What’s going on here?” 

Well, we’re here to tell you all about what happens when a referee takes back their decision and how often it occurs. So if you want to learn more about refereeing in soccer and what goes into making these kinds of decisions, read on!

In most cases, no – a referee cannot take back a red card once it has been issued. The rules of the game state that referees are not allowed to alter their decisions during play, even if new information becomes available or upon further reflection. Red cards can only be overturned in infrequent circumstances, such as mistaken identity or an exceptional ruling from the governing body of the sport.

Are There Any Circumstances Where A Referee Might Take Back a Red Card?

Yes, there are certain circumstances in which a referee might consider taking back a red card. However, it is important to note that this is a rare occurrence and is not something that happens frequently. In order for a referee to consider revoking a red card, there must be a clear and compelling reason for doing so.

One such circumstance could be if the player who was issued the red card was actually attempting to play the ball, rather than committing a foul. If the referee misinterpreted the player’s actions, and it can be clearly shown that they were not trying to cause harm or commit a foul, the red card may be rescinded.

Another circumstance in which a red card might be taken back is if it was issued to the wrong player. If the referee accidentally gives a red card to the wrong player, they may reconsider their decision and revoke the red card once the mistake is brought to their attention.

It is important to note that these are just a few examples, and each situation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

How Does The Process of Taking Back a Red Card Work?

The process of taking back a red card usually begins when the referee consults with their assistants, who may have a better view of the incident in question. For example, if the assistant referee believes that the red card was issued in error, they can recommend to the referee that the card be taken back. 

The referee then has the discretion to either accept or reject this recommendation. If the referee decides to take back the red card, they will signal to the fourth official, and the player who received the red card can return to the game.

In some cases, the referee may also consult with the video assistant referee (VAR) before making a decision on whether to take back a red card. The VAR can review footage of the incident and provide additional information to the referee, which may help them to make a more informed decision.

However, the final decision on whether to take back a red card rests with the referee and their assistants, and they must make their decision in a timely manner so as not to disrupt the flow of the game.

Examples When Referee Took Back A Red Card

One example of a referee taking back a red card occurred in a 2014 match between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Real Madrid player Sergio Ramos was shown a red card for a foul on Lionel Messi.

Still, upon review, the referee realized that Ramos had actually won the ball fairly, and the red card was subsequently withdrawn. In this case, the use of video assistant referees (VAR) played a crucial role in helping the referee make the correct decision.

Another instance where a red card was taken back occurred in a 2017 match between Manchester United and Burnley. Manchester United player Ander Herrera was shown a red card for a foul on Burnley’s Ashley Barnes. Still, upon review, it was determined that Herrera had made a clean tackle, and the red card was subsequently withdrawn.

It’s important to note that a referee can only take back a red card if they made a clear mistake before issuing it. Therefore, if a red card is issued for a more subjective offense, such as unsporting behavior or dissent, the referee will be less likely to reconsider their decision.

In conclusion, while it is rare, there are instances where a referee may take back a red card after initially issuing it. This typically occurs when the referee realizes they made a mistake or if new information becomes available that warrants reconsideration of the punishment. However, a red card can only be taken back if the offense is a clear mistake and not for more subjective offenses.

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