Temporary Dismissals – “Sin Bins”


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Known in soccer as “temporary dismissals,” or the use of soccer “sin bins,” the International Football Association Board (IFAB) has issued guidelines for referees to implement local rules regarding the removal of players from a game for a short period of time due to certain infractions.  Similar to the concept of the penalty box in ice hockey, the IFAB “approved the use of temporary dismissals (sin bins) for all or some cautions/yellow cards (YCs) in youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football, subject to the approval of the competition’s national FA, confederation or FIFA, whichever is appropriate.”  This provision is established under the authority, duties, and responsibilities of the soccer referee as contained in “Law 5 – The Referee” of the 17 “Laws of the Game” of soccer.  If implemented for any given competition, it should be included in the “Local Rules” provided to the referee before the start of the match.  (When first proposed, after having shown the yellow card, some referees started showing “orange cards” to demonstrate to a player that a temporary “sin bin” dismissal had been applied.  The orange color was intended to be “halfway” between a yellow card and a red card.  It became clear, however, that various shades of orange could not be easily distinguished from yellow and red.  Accordingly, a “blue card” was introduced.)

The temporary dismissal option applies only to yellow-card (cautionable) offenses and is in addition to the player having been shown a yellow card.

The IFAB writes:

“A temporary dismissal is when a player commits a cautionable (YC) offense and is punished by an immediate ‘suspension’ from participating in the next part of that match.  The philosophy is that an ‘instant punishment’ can have a significant and immediate positive influence on the behavior of the offending player and, potentially, the player’s team.

The national FA, confederation, or FIFA, should approve (for publication in the competition rules) a temporary dismissal protocol within the following guidelines:

Players only

  • Temporary dismissals apply to all players (including goalkeepers) but not for cautionable offenses (YCs) committed by a substitute or substituted player

Referee’s signal

  • The referee will indicate a temporary dismissal by showing a yellow card (YC) and then clearly pointing with both arms to the temporary dismissal area (usually the player’s technical area)

The temporary dismissal period

  • The length of the temporary dismissal is the same for all offenses
  • The length of the temporary dismissal should be between 10-15% of the total playing time (e.g. 10 minutes in a 90-minute match; 8 minutes in an 80-minute match)
  • The temporary dismissal period begins when play restarts after the player has left the field of play
  • The referee should include in the temporary dismissal period any time ‘lost’ for a stoppage for which ‘additional time’ will be allowed at the end of the half (e.g. substitution, injury etc…)
  • Competitions must decide who will help the referee time the dismissal period – it could be the responsibility of a delegate, 4th official or neutral assistant referee; conversely it could be a team official
  • Once the temporary dismissal period has been completed, the player can return from the touchline with the referee’s permission, which can be given while the ball is in play
  • The referee has the final decision as to when the player can return
  • A temporarily dismissed player can not be substituted until the end of the temporary dismissal period (but not if the team has used all its permitted substitutes)
  • If a temporary dismissal period has not been completed at the end of the first half (or the end of the second half when extra time is to be played) the remaining part of the temporary dismissal period is served from the start of the second half (start of extra time)
  • A player who is still serving a temporary dismissal at the end of the match is permitted to take part in kicks from the penalty mark (penalties)

Temporary dismissal area

  • A temporarily dismissed player should remain within the technical area (where one exists) or with the team’s coach/technical staff, unless ‘warming up’ (under the same conditions as a substitute)

Offenses before/during/after a temporary dismissal

  • A temporarily dismissed player who commits a cautionable (YC) or sending-off (RC) offense during their temporary dismissal period will take no further part in the match and may not be replaced or substituted

Further disciplinary action

  • Competitions/national FAs will decide if temporary dismissals must be reported to the appropriate authorities and whether any further disciplinary action may be taken e.g. suspension for accumulating a number of temporary dismissals, as with cautions (YCs)

Temporary dismissal systems

A competition may use one of the following temporary dismissal systems:

  • System A – for all cautions (YCs)
  • System B – for some but not all cautions (YCs)

System A – temporary dismissal for all cautions (YCs)

  • All cautions (YCs) are punished with a temporary dismissal
  • A player who commits a 2nd caution (YC) in the same match:

–       will receive a second temporary dismissal and then takes no further part in the match

–       may be replaced by a substitute at the end of the second temporary dismissal period if the player’s team has not used its maximum number of substitutes (this is because the team has already been ‘punished’ by playing without that player for 2 x temporary dismissal periods)

System B – temporary dismissal for some but not all cautions (YCs)*

  • A pre-defined list of cautionable (YC) offenses will be punished by a temporary dismissal
  • All other cautionable offenses are punished with a caution (YC)
  • A player who has been temporarily dismissed and then receives a caution (YC) continues playing
  • A player who has received a caution (YC) and then receives a temporary dismissal can continue playing after the end of the temporary dismissal period
  • A player who receives a second temporary dismissal in the same match will serve the temporary dismissal and then takes no further part in the match. The player may be replaced by a substitute at the end of the second temporary dismissal period if the player’s team has not used its maximum number of substitutes but a player who has also received a non-temporary dismissal caution (YC) may not be replaced or substituted
  • A player who receives a second caution (YC) in the same match will be sent off and takes no further part in the match and may not be replaced/substituted

*Some competitions may find it valuable to use temporary dismissals only for cautions (YCs) for offense[s] relating to ‘inappropriate’ behavior, e.g.

  • Simulation
  • Deliberately delaying the opposing team’s restart of the match
  • Dissent or verbal comments or gestures
  • Stopping a promising attack by holding, pulling, pushing or handball
  • Kicker illegally feinting at a penalty kick”

Soccer Coaching Tips:

–       It is critical that coaches know the local rules, as implemented by the competition’s controlling administrative organization, regarding the use (or non-use) of temporary dismissals (“Sin Bins”).

–       It is equally critical the coaches provide all local rules, especially regarding temporary dismissals, to the referee(s) before a match.

© Copyright, John C. Harves