House of cards: why there are so few yellow cards at Euro-2020

yellow card

«The Gentle Championship». Under this name, the European Championship in 2021 could go down in soccer history, because the trend is obvious. The group stage marked an average of 2.72 yellow cards per match (one of the lowest values in Euro history). In the first round of the group stage, the number was fantastic: 1.8. We’ll tell you how these stats can be explained.

Euro-2020 fails to meet the norm on cards

Above were the statistics on yellow cards in the Euro-2020 group stage. Of course, the numbers have gone up from the first round, but they still fall short of the average. To illustrate the statistics on yellow cards in previous tournaments: 

  • Euro-2000 – 3.84;
  • Euro-2004 – 5,03;
  • Euro-2008 – 3.93;
  • Euro-2012 – 3,90;
  • Euro-2016 – 3.96.

These are the numbers for the entire tournament. However, even by the Final of Euro-2020, the card rate is 2.94. Quite a noticeable decline compared to previous championships.

VAR has changed soccer

The situation at this European Championship can be explained in different ways. We will instantly rule out options such as conspiracies, referees’ working on bookies and other unrealistic reasons that some soccer betting fans believe in.

Perhaps the only true reason for player caution and referee loyalty in the past tournament is a change in attitude toward VAR. The video-assisted refereeing system has been in use for four years and seems to have been able to become a part of soccer. Clear rules for viewing video replays have been established, players and referees are used to the changes. Thanks to this, the effectiveness of VAR has also improved.

Roberto Rosetti, UEFA’s chief refereeing officer, reporting on the results of the group stage of the European Championship, mentioned the following points:

  • On average, it takes the video assistants 20 seconds less to watch and analyze one episode than it did in international competitions in the past ;
  • In the entire group stage, only 12 referees’ decisions were changed after the VAR review (only one in three matches was changed), compared with 179 reviews in total.

This means that referees no longer need to regularly go to the monitor during a match. The process of the system and VAR technology has been improved: video assistants quickly review controversial episodes and hardly interfere with what’s happening on the field. VAR is now a natural and necessary part of the soccer world.

It has affected the players, too. They try to commit less brutal fouls because the referee’s decision can now be adjusted. Yellow cards or verbal warnings can be checked with VAR. The system is also used if there is any doubt about the necessity of a red card. Thus, for the well known foul on Nigel De Jong in the final of the 2010 World Cup, the red card would have been shown today after viewing the video replay, while the Dutchman got away with a yellow one.

As you can see, the explanation for the low number of yellow cards at Euro 2020 was quite simple. It was possible to notice a tendency to reduce the number of warnings in matches and make good money on it, which some betting enthusiasts did (if you are one of them or are about to start betting, visit with reviews and ratings of bookmakers).