Italian soccer league is now using green cards to reward players for good sportsmanship

Serie APaolo Bruno/Getty

Serie B, Italy’s second-highest professional soccer league, is unveiling a new initiative to promote sportsmanship among its players: the green card.

On Friday, the AP reported that after a game’s final whistle, refs will award green cards to those players who demonstrated good sportsmanship over the course of the game.

Admit a goal kick when the refs called a corner? Green card. Help your opponent off the ground? Green card!

“We need to provide good examples — because clearly they’re lacking lately,” league president Andrea Abodi said.

Between match-fixing scandals and violent fans, Italian soccer has taken a turn for the worse over the past several seasons. Diving is not unique to Italian soccer, but it is certainly as rampant in Italy as it is anywhere else in the world.

Now, at the end of the season, the players with the most green cards will receive some sort of award.

From the AP (via Sports Illustrated):

“It’s a symbolic award,” Abodi said, explaining that the initiative is in the final phase of development. “It could be something very simple. The important thing is to recognize it when a professional does something exemplary.”

In many ways, Serie B is following similar efforts made elsewhere in Europe to promote fair play. West Ham earned itself a spot in the 2015-16 Europe League qualifying round because it won the Premier League Fair Play Table last year.

“This is just one part of a series of initiatives on and off the pitch,” Abodi said. “Respect has to come first. And that’s where this green card comes into play.”

Under soccer rules, a green card cannot be awarded in the middle of the actual match. It makes sense, but is a bit disappointing. Can you imagine if a player could earn a yellow card for a rough tackle, followed by a green card for helping his opponent off the field? Would they cancel each other out?

Abodi said he did not know if Serie A, or other leagues around the world, would adopt the the green card initiative. Still, if nothing else, it feels like a blessing that this didn’t begin in the United States.

Remember all the outrage about participation trophies?


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