get a yellow card for taking their shirt off
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Do Footballers Get A Yellow Card For Taking Their Shirt Off?

It was not uncommon to see a football player remove their shirt while celebrating a goal in previous games. It was, in fact, a fairly common occurrence. This is often looked at as something quite expected, especially when celebrating a late-game goal that was usually the game-winner.

Furthermore, prestigious competitions such as the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA World Cup are distinguished by important, high-stakes football matches. For many footballers, competing in these tournaments is a dream come true. This is why it is expected to see ecstasy when they score a goal while playing there. Is it, however, that simple?

the answer is; yes!

In the title, we posed a question, and the answer is yes! Footballers are given a yellow card if they remove their shirts during play or celebration. What is the reason for this? Why was this rule put in place? Does it apply to all situations on the field? All of these inquiries will be addressed today.

Unfortunately for them, FIFA is not fond of victory celebrations that include taking off one’s shirt. The Football Association decided to sanction this type of behavior by showing footballers a yellow card for taking their shirts off for a variety of reasons.

This style of celebration has been condemned as a violation of general football rules, and it is included in the Laws of the Game.

Does FIFA Regulate Get a Yellow Card for Taking a Shirt Off During a Game?

footballers taking their shirt off

However, FIFA’s Law 12 governs the removal of jerseys during goal celebrations. It is stated that players who remove their shirts to celebrate will automatically be given a yellow card. The rule went into effect on July 1, 2004, after being approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) at its 118th Annual Meeting in London.

IFAB, being responsible for the Laws of the Game, added detail to the section regarding “Fouls and Misconduct”. “A player who removes his jersey after scoring a goal will be cautioned for unsporting behavior,” it says.

FIFA’s Law 12

“Players can celebrate when a goal is scored, but the celebration must not be excessive; choreographed celebrations are not encouraged and must not cause excessive time-wasting. 

 Leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is not a cautionable offense but players should return as soon as possible. 

 A player must be cautioned for: 

  • climbing onto a perimeter fence and/or approaching the spectators in a manner that causes safety and/or security issues 
  • gesturing or acting in a provocative, derisory or inflammatory way 
  • covering the head or face with a mask or other similar item 
  • removing the shirt or covering the head with the shirt” 

Unsporting Behaviour

Unsporting behavior is considered when a player removes his jersey, or more specifically if he pulls the jersey over his head or even if his head is covered by the jersey. As a result, he will be eligible for sanctioning. The Laws of the Game clearly state in the section “Additional Instructions for Referees and Assistant Referees” that “removing one’s shirt after scoring is unnecessary, and players should avoid such excessive displays of joy.”

It is considered bad sportsmanship and bad behavior. Football has always been a game that values fairness and fair play. Furthermore, when these values are present, this type of behavior is not acceptable.

Why Did FIFA Decide to Penalize Taking a Shirt Off? 

There could be a number of reasons why the Football Association decided to side with the players and issue yellow cards for taking their shirts off.

  1. Wasting time, according to popular opinion, happens when players use this type of celebration to waste time after scoring a goal. The referee must wait for the player to put his shirt back on, which can take up to two and a half minutes at times, especially when players act as if they are having trouble with it. Players should concentrate on the game rather than wasting time getting dressed properly.
  2. However, many players use this method of celebration to display the messages written on the shirt beneath. Sometimes these messages have political overtones, which FIFA does not approve of. Political messages may cause friction between teams or riots in the stands. According to FIFA, this poses a significant risk, particularly in national team games.
  3. It irritated the sponsors of the clubs. During the game, a TV camera zooms in on the player who scored the goal. It is a highly anticipated event, and if he removes his shirt, sponsors will miss out on their shining moment. Sponsorship deals are expensive, and they want all of the media attention they can get.

Is Taking a Shirt Off Characterized as Unsportsmanlike Behaviour?

Cultural differences between countries are one of the reasons FIFA prohibits such celebrations. When Rule 12 of the Law of the Game was stated, it was introduced with the words “taking off a jersey is an insult to the one who has to look” in reference to Islamic countries.

why taking their shirt off in football is unsporting behaviour?

keeping the game standard & neutral:

FIFA made every effort to standardize players’ behavior and ensure that they did not offend or hurt the feelings of any football fan. This is true not only of cultural differences. Religious messages are frequently printed on undershirts. Such messages may offend certain ethnic or religious groups.

FIFA hopes that by prohibiting this type of celebration, it will put an end to the use of football games to make religious and political statements. In this way, they will reduce the risk of inappropriate messages and potentially offensive content being spread at football events, while keeping the game as the primary focus. As a result, referees must sometimes issue yellow cards to football players who remove their shirt during a game.

Is Taking Your Jersey Off Banned in Women’s Football Too?

Yes, it is the same case. Women’s football games follow the same rules as men’s football games. As the same regulations are stated, the same sanctions are also stated. Because it is still considered an “exaggerated goal celebration,” women can be punished for taking off their jerseys.

There are no exceptions regarding honoring the Laws of the Game, no matter who plays football, men or women. For taking their shirt off, all of the football players receive a yellow card.

Famous Cases of Getting a Yellow Card for Taking The Shirt Off 

Taking your jersey off to celebrate can sometimes cost you more than just a yellow card. The rules are unambiguous, and FIFA did not leave any room for interpretation. This will not be tolerated, and the referee will sanction it. Referees are given clear instructions to give footballers a yellow card for taking their shirts off. If you already have a yellow card, the cost is higher, as some players discovered.

James Vaughan’s 95th Minute “Winner”

The intriguing situation occurred during the 2015 match between Huddersfield and Norwich. In the 95th minute of the game, James Vaughan scored. He joyfully removed his shirt, as it was a goal for the win and a 2-1 victory.

According to the rules, the referee showed him the yellow card, and it turned out to be his second yellow card of the game, meaning he was out for the rest of the game. Sadly for his team, despite the odds, Norwich scored a second goal, resulting in a late-game equalizer.

Dani Osvaldo Paying Homage to The Great Batistuta

Dani Osvaldo scored a goal for Fiorentina in 2008, earning him his second yellow card of the game. After scoring a late winner against Juventus, he removed his shirt and re-enacted Gabriel Batistuta’s famous machine gun celebration. Although it was a nice gesture on his part, it did not prevent him from being booked for the second time in this game.

Steve Brown’s Ill-Timed Reveal

In the game against Leicester City, he received a yellow card. What’s interesting here is that Brown received his yellow card after celebrating a goal scored by a teammate.

He used the goal celebration to take his jersey off to unveil the name of his son Maxwell, who was ill at that moment. Referee Steve Bennett did not consider the circumstances and immediately issued him a second yellow card and directed him to the locker room.

Other Cases

A second yellow card was also issued without even celebrating a goal scored. Samuel Inkoom of Dnipro was about to be replaced in the 61st minute of a game against Karpaty in 2011. He removed his shirt as he ran towards the touchline for a substitution.

Apparently, he believed the game was over for him and that there was no reason to keep the jersey on. Unfortunately, the referee was not of the same mind. He immediately issued the player a yellow card for removing his shirt, his second of the game.

Should FIFA Question Their Decision ABOUT Taking Shirt Off? 

should the rule about taking their shirt off in football change?

The yellow card rule for removing one’s shirt stems from FIFA’s desire to create an equal and tolerant atmosphere during football games. With players and fans coming from all over the world, as football is the most watched and played sport, it is clear why it was important for the Football Association to set some ground rules of behaviour, which ensure that no one is insulted because of someone’s behaviour at the game.

FIFA’s stance is that no political or religious messages, as well as excessive celebration, are permitted at the games. Referees must uphold these standards and issue yellow cards to football players who remove their shirt.

The “Justice for George Floyd” Message

Recent events have reignited debate over the rule of giving footballers a yellow card for taking their shirt off. Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund scored a goal against Paderborn this year, which he used to send the message written underneath his jersey.

The message was “Justice for George Floyd” in solidarity with the man who died as a result of police brutality in the United States.

the irony of sanCho’s & Hakimi’s case:

The irony is that before every football game since then, players kneel before a match as a sign of solidarity to this case. The message sent is clear, and it is actually the same message Sancho showed. So, how is that very different? 

This case sparked riots in the United States and a global “Black Lives Matter” movement. Nevertheless, the referee showed Sancho a yellow card for his behaviour, and that opened once again a public discussion on this issue.

Especially since Jadon did not remove his jersey and offended someone by exposing his body. Furthermore, the message displayed was not in any way offensive. As a result, it begs the question of whether every shirt removal, regardless of context, should be punished. Even more perplexing is the fact that his teammate Achraf Hakimi displayed the same message when he scored the fourth goal in this very match, but did not receive a yellow card.

What happened in this case if referees must always show footballers a yellow card for taking their shirt off? The irony is that before every football game since then, players kneel before a match as a sign of solidarity to this case. The message sent is clear, and it is the same message Sancho displayed. So, what makes that so different?


FIFA clearly needs to make their rules more flexible and understandable. These types of cases highlight the system’s flaws and indicate that the work is far from complete. FIFA must continue to question the rule of giving footballers a yellow card for taking their shirt off every time this occurs, as there are some exceptions when this type of punishment is unacceptable to players and fans.

We’ve done our best to cover as much of the subject as possible. A lot goes into taking your shirt off in soccer, from displaying worthy messages to using the moment as a flair of show-off and waste of time. Thank you for your patience!

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