Saints or Sin Binners: Would a Sin Bin Rule Improve Football?


According to reports, the “sin bin” rule for yellow card offences could be introduced into football soon. For all the hyperbole that surrounds the game, this could very well be a paradigm shift.

The introduction of a sin bin would surely bring about more questions – ones even more ponderous than that, or why somebody in 2017 would sign Darron Gibson. In advance of that, here are some questions – and answers – about sin bins.

What is the “sin bin”?

There isn’t yet an explanation as to how it will work in football, but if we are to borrow from rugby union (which by the way,  is currently, insufferably “showing football how it’s done” as it’s Six Nations time of year) it will work like this: once a player is shown a yellow he has to sit out 10 minutes of play.

If you say “I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less” you’re probably North American and you’ll, therefore, know it as a ‘penalty box’. In ice hockey, the offender is put in a little glass box for two minutes.

Chances are football will have its own specific rules, but to make things easier, for the rest of the article let’s assume it would work just like rugby – yellow card, off you go for 10 minutes.

Will it lead to more “respect” for the referee?

In theory, yes. It’s easy to complain about referees and the overall standard but ask yourselves: how on earth can you improve the standard of officiating, when referees, like many of David Attenborough’s friends, are an endangered species?

Who wants to be a referee and endure 22 men (plus managers, coaches, and subs) plus thousands of spectators swearing in their faces and questioning their parents all day long? Perhaps fewer players would say “**** off you **** ****, **** *****” if they thought it would cost their team more.

On the flip side, it could lead to more attention on referees. Good for the likes of Mike Dean and Mark Clattenburg, less so for your average Joe Referee who is happy to sink into anonymity once the match is over.  There would be more potentially match-turning decisions for bloodthirsty pundits to sink their teeth into. Everyone would forget to discuss the actual football.

Would it cut out, or increase, diving?

Right now, the risk and rewards for diving are horrendously lopsided. If it works? Penalty, probably a goal. It doesn’t work? No biggie, you’re booked. Maybe you’ll make the back page column (provided Raheem Sterling hasn’t had the audacity to buy something with his legally earned wage).

Would players and managers, however, think twice about diving, and encouraging their players not to dive if they thought it came with a potential man deficit in a crucial period?

Turning the table; would more players dive in other areas of the pitch hoping to give their tough tackling opponent a ten-minute breather? It could do, but the retrospective diving action (which will be very hard to rule on) is also mooted to combat the evil that foreign players (not British, never, he didn’t dive he avoided injury) have brought into our game.

Would it eliminate cynical fouls or eliminate tackling?

There are few more “Oh you bastard!” moments in football than seeing an exciting counter-attack cynically stopped with a blatant foul on the halfway line. Would the offender, who we’ll call Cee Lattermole, be quite so tempted to cynically trip if he’s reducing Blunderland temporarily to 10 men? He’s imaginary, but in this scenario, he may not.

Then there’s the other side. Everyone’s dad has already mentioned how tackling is going out of the game, with an even greater deterrent for a “full-blooded challenge” would they even occur? Will the game go soft? Will we live in a Pep Guardiola utopia where nobody knows what a tackle is!?

The return of the double-whammy?

It was only this year that saw the rule change wherein the offence of committing a “last man” foul inside the penalty box was punished with a yellow card, as opposed to a red.

The reasoning was simple enough. Giving a penalty and a red card is a double punishment for one offence. If unchanged the sin bin would, like a DJ playing back to back George Michael hits, bring back the double whammy (it works, leave it, you cynical reader).

The elimination of time-wasting?

Funny and justifiable when your team is doing it but fist-shakingly-annoying when you’re on the receiving end. Would you see players lumbering to take a throw in if it meant holding onto the lead with one man less? Probably not.

How much would the rules have to change?

I asked you earlier (and thanks if you’re still with me) to assume the “rugby style” sin bin would apply, but doing that literally in football would be a bit farcical. There are many more bookings (and occasions to be booked) in football.

A sin-bin spell for every infraction would see games quickly become short sided. Plus, what about the times where the punishment wouldn’t fit the crime; a player scoring an 82nd minutes goal in a cup final, in a moment of elation, putting his shirt over his head, doesn’t deserve to leave the field.

There is also times where the punishment wouldn’t fit the crime. A player scoring an 82nd minutes goal in a cup final, in a moment of elation, putting his shirt over his head, doesn’t deserve to leave the field. Amendments would be a must. However, this could offer the chance for The FA or FIFA to start with a clean slate. They could replace some rules – or clarify some that have entered a grey area, like two-footed tackles.

Would the bedding-in period and obvious teething problems be worth it for the potential elimination or severe reduction of little bits of gamesmanship that get up our nose?

This may not be a Banksy but maybe it has #madeyouthink. Let us know your opinions. Do sin bins have their place in modern football?

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter @JustFootball and Facebook for more football news, views, features and analysis.

Featured image source: Pixabay

, , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.