What Does a Red Card Mean in Soccer?

Bob Thomas/Photographer’s Choice/Getty Images

A red card in soccer means that a player has committed a serious violation that results in his ejection from the match. The player must leave the field and may not remain on the bench for the remainder of the match, and the team continues playing with one less player.

Referees usually issue red cards for excessive force that endangers another player, abusive language, spitting and violent actions, such as punching, kicking and elbowing. Referees may also issue red cards for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity or for receiving two yellow cards in the same match. Players who are ejected after receiving a red card are often banned from the next match; in some cases, they may be banned from additional future games.