The Italian second division Serie B will from this weekend introduce a new rule to encourage fair play in football.
Italians have long been accused of poor gamesmanship and diving in hopes of drawing a penalty, but Italian footballers will soon be able to get a different kind of recognition from referees, a ‘green card’ for good sportsmanship.
Referees in football already carry a yellow and red card in their pockets, yellow to warn and red to dismiss players for extreme violations of the rules.
Italian newspaper La Stampa reports, Italy’s Serie B (second division) will introduce the green card to reward players who commit conspicuous acts of sportsmanship.
The idea was first adopted in Italian youth leagues, but this is the first time the scheme will be used at a higher level and it could spread to other professional leagues, the Italian media revealed.
There is no in-game reward for earning a green card, but the player’s name will be noted and a list of the “most correct” players will be listed at the end of the season.
Green cards can be earned for such actions as sending a ball out of bounds to stop play when a player is injured; helping the referee make a correct call; and — curiously — admitting to having taken a dive in order to win a penalty kick.
The idea, according to Italian officials, is to “highlight those who help to make the game a game and not a battle by primal instincts.”
The green card will be introduced this Saturday, according to Eurosport.it .
Some predict it will catch on like other recent innovations, including goal-line technology and spray-marking the line where defenders must stand on free kicks.
It can prove to be an interesting rule in football and in future the top league around the world might adopt it. Only time will tell if FIFA would give this an official recognition.