NEW figures have shown that blue cards have helped to tackle dissent in Cumbrian grassroots football. 

This follows plans by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) to introduce blue cards and 'sin bin' trials to some competitions, with the FA Cup reportedly being one of these, to improve 'participant behaviour'.

If a blue card is shown to a dissenting player, they will be side-lined for a short period of match time - potentially ten minutes.

However, the announcement of these trials, which was due to come in on Friday, February 9, was pushed back due to backlash following reports of the plans. 

In Cumbria, temporary dismissals or sin bins have been a part of grassroots football since IFAB announced in 2017 that national associations would be able to pilot the system, and in 2019 this became a permanent rule that was introduced up to step five of the National League System and tier three and below in Women's football.

Ben Snowden, Cumberland FA's chief executive officer, admitted that the proposed introduction of sin bins further up the English football pyramid is divisive.

However, he shared data that shows that at lower levels they have helped to curb levels of dissent. 

He said: "The original announcement was met with lots of differing views and if I am honest, I think it is still a rule that divides opinion as to its effectiveness, which is why we see it as only a part of the work that we do to try and create a positive football environment across the game.

"However, the introduction of temporary dismissals does seem to have some impact when we consider the number of cases of dissent seen within Cumberland.

"In 2016/17, before sin bins were piloted,  we had 462 cases of dissent across the county. In 2017/18 this reduced to 356, increasing slightly in 18/19 to 377.

"We then had a couple of Covid-affected seasons, but in 21/22 we had 282 cases and then last season this had reduced again to 238, which is a 33 per cent reduction from 16/17."

Ben also explained how the introduction of sin bins in Cumbria was another step towards improving safety and improving overall matchday experiences. 

He said: "The intention was to try and improve levels of respect and fair play within the grassroots game with the hope of improving the match day experience for referees.

"The temporary dismissal would also provide match officials and their club officials with an additional tool to manage players.

"It was also suggested that the fines attached to a yellow card for dissent were, in some cases, not having any impact on the players' behaviour and that being temporarily removed from the game may be a more suitable sanction to have some form of impact upon that player in the future.

"Whilst the motivation behind this was not financial, at what is a challenging time for all those who play grassroots football, the fact that a player is not required to pay the administration fee for being sent to a sin bin, as the punishment has already been served during the match, has to also be recognised as a positive.

"[It] is in line with the fact that as a County FA, we do not want to take money from players or clubs for their behaviour and would much prefer that all those playing the game were well behaved, improving the match day experience for everyone involved."