The Blue Card in Indoor Soccer: An Easy-to-Understand Guide

Most people don’t associate a blue card with soccer.

We all know what red and yellow cards mean in the outdoor version of the game, but referees don’t show blue cards in outdoor soccer.

So why does indoor soccer use blue cards, and what do they mean?

In indoor soccer, a blue card is a means to discipline players who commit minor offenses during a game. A blue card indicates that a player must accept a penalty timeout and remove themselves from the game for two minutes. Blue cards are the lowest level of punishment in indoor soccer.

Keep reading, and I’ll explain more about what blue cards mean in indoor soccer.

Blue card in soccer header image

Blue Card in Indoor Soccer

The referee shows a blue card in indoor soccer to players for minor offenses. These offenses are known as “unsporting behaviors.”  

Offenses in indoor soccer include: 

  • Continuous infringements
  •  Violations of safety rules (chewing gum, leaving field exits unlocked, etc.)
  •  Dissent by word or action
  •  Illegal substitutions
  •  Minor physical fouls (referees have to punish players who cause minor physical fouls to control the game)
  •  Spitting on the turf
  •  Encroachment
  •  Too many players on the field

I’ve even seen a player receive a blue card for wearing the wrong cleats to play indoor soccer.

The blue card is also sometimes called a warning card because it warns the player that they must play within the rules or risk further punishment, such as a yellow card or red card.

As mentioned above, a blue card can be given for anything from dissent by word or action against the referee to safety violations.

Let me explain how it works.

Dissent can be shown by either a player’s words, actions, or both.

For example, suppose an opponent tells the referee they did not make a legitimate play because of some illegal move. In that case, this would be dissent by word.

On the other hand, if an opponent kicks or trips an opponent after the play has ended, this can be viewed as dissent by action.

Player committing an offense in indoor soccer
Player committing an offense in indoor soccer

Although no specific offenses are listed on the card itself, players need to know what their offenses in accordance with their league are to avoid committing them in future games.

The referee also decides when not to give a blue card.

For example, suppose a player makes a tackle but pulls his foot away at the last second to avoid making contact with an opponent. In that case, the referee will not view this as a dangerous play and, therefore, will not result in the referee showing a player a blue card.

The use of a blue card in indoor soccer is one of the ways this version of the game differs from futsal. If you want to find out more, check out my article – The Difference Between Indoor Soccer and Futsal.

The Consequences of Receiving a Blue Card in Indoor Soccer

Now that you know why a player can receive a blue card in indoor soccer, what are the consequences for a player given a blue card?

The consequence of a blue card is a penalty timeout. This timeout is typically two minutes long, giving the opposing team a power-play advantage.

“A blue card offense should always be accompanied by a temporary suspension from play.”

Laws of the Game

The player who receives a blue card has to sit in a penalty box or ‘sin bin,’ an area to the side of the field designated for this purpose.

Soccer player sat on the side of the playing area
Soccer player sat on the side of the playing area

The team plays one player short until the two minutes are over or the opposing team scores a goal against them.

If the team with the penalty advantage does score a goal against them, the player can return to play immediately. 

At the end of a player’s time out of the game, the referee will invite them back onto the field of play to continue participating.

Any indoor soccer player can be shown a blue card by the referee regardless of their role or responsibility within the team.

How Is a Blue Card Different From Other Cards in Soccer?

There are three colors of cards in soccer: red, yellow, and blue.

Each of those cards indicates the severity of an offense and the severity of the consequence.

Let’s briefly talk about how each of the cards differs from one another.

Card TypeDescriptionConsequence
Blue CardOnly used in indoor soccer. A blue card indicates that a player has committed a minor offense.The player must leave the field for a short period of time (usually 2 minutes), during which the player’s team is temporarily reduced by one player.
Yellow CardA yellow card indicates that a player has committed a specific infringement of the rules.One yellow card means the player has been given a warning, and if a player receives two yellow cards in a single match, they are automatically shown a red card.
Red CardA red card indicates the player has committed a serious offense or has been shown two yellow cards.A player is sent off and must leave the field of play immediately. The player cannot be replaced, and the team must play with one fewer player for the remainder of the game. If the player was the goalkeeper, a teammate must take over goalkeeping duties.
The difference between a yellow card, a red card, and a blue card in soccer

Blue Cards

An indoor soccer referee will show players blue cards for minor offenses. This is unique to the rules of indoor soccer.

These include attempting to deceive the referee, failing to respect the encroachment rule, and committing fouls to break up an attack.

These are not the only offenses a player can commit to get a blue card. Scroll back up to the top of the article to review the list we looked at before.

A referee can also issue multiple blue cards within a single game. 

Here’s what it means to have multiple blue cards in indoor soccer:

1) First blue card: the player is penalized for two minutes.

2) Second blue card: the player is penalized for two minutes and has yellow card status.

3) Third blue card: the player has red card status, and his team is penalized for five minutes.

Yellow Cards

Yellow cards are issued for more severe offenses than a blue card but for less severe offenses than a red card.

referee issuing yellow card to soccer player
Referee issuing yellow card to soccer player

In indoor soccer, yellow cards may be treated as double minors and result in a four-minute timed penalty.

The penalty gets canceled if the opposing team scores a goal after two minutes; otherwise, the player must serve the entire four minutes.

Reasons yellow cards are issued:

  • Reckless fouls decided by the referee
  •  A tackle from behind
  •  Initiating physical contact with the intention of fighting
  •  Continuous infringement of the rules

The referee can also give yellow cards to goalkeepers if they commit a dangerous foul and several other specific cases.

Check out my article – The Rules of Soccer – for more info.

Red Cards

Red cards are the highest level of cards you can get as a penalty in indoor soccer. 

A referee can eject a player, substitute, or coach during, before, or after the game.

They must leave the playing area immediately if they commit an offense. Likewise, a timed five-minute penalty is served in full by a team member.

Soccer referee showing a red card
Soccer referee showing a red card

When a player, coach, or substitute receives a red card, they can no longer participate for the rest of that game and the team’s next league game.

The league administrators usually decide the duration of the suspension.

If misconduct continues after a person receives a red card, additional red cards can be issued. 

Reasons red cards are issued:

  • Tackles that endanger the safety of an opponent
  •  Spitting at an opponent
  •  Abusive language or behavior toward a referee
  •  Physical contact with a referee, assistant referee, or facility staff
  •  Striking an opponent with the intent of harm
  •  Leaving the bench to join an altercation on the field
  •  Any form of violence or fighting

As you can probably tell, these are the severest offenses that players, coaches, or substitutes can commit.


Referees and officials decide which card to give to players depending on the severity of the offense committed. 

In case of less severe offenses, the referee may choose not to punish the player with a yellow or red card. Instead, blue cards are issued as a minor punishment or warning.

Learning indoor soccer rules is essential to avoid getting sent off, penalized, or carded.

Ben Clayfield

Hi! My name's Ben. I've played, watched, read about, and enjoyed soccer throughout my life. I really enjoy finding out more about the game I love and sharing it with you all. Find out more about me here - Ben Clayfield

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