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Many fans of the game have been taking notice, along with players to the diminishing amount of physical contact allowed.

The premier league season of 2022/2023, saw the fewest amount of straight red cards issued in history, indicating the game may not have become as soft as fans think. With times changing along with improved well-being for the players, the rules would have evolved from 50 years ago, when the sport was a lot more aggressive.

However, in the 2022/2023 season of the premier league, overall, there were 1,374 yellow cards issued, which lands the second highest spot on the record, according to the premier league website.


Being responsible for 50% of the players in the top 10 most yellow cards received in the 2022/2023 season, Chelsea had an average of 3.54 of yellow cards given in a game, which is more than double in comparison with Arsenal. Comparing this to the season prior where only one player was in the top 10 of most yellow cards received.

Red cards

The top 20 players with the most amount of red cards ever received are all now retired, majority peaked in the early 2000s, making fans believe that football rules have gone soft, however the growth in well-being amongst players and the tactics within teams still ensures an entertaining game, as well as the game still being aggressive, with 47% of players being forced to retire due to injuries, and aggression from other players contributes to 28-33% of players injuries.

Women’s football

“There should be fewer yellow cards, if I had to change any rules” Arsenal women’s captain, Katie McCabe said. McCabe received a total of 12 yellow cards in the 2022/2023 season. Arsenal Women’s team of the 2022/2023 season reportedly had an average of 6.95 fouls committed per match, similar too Manchester City’s women’s who had an average of 6.75 fouls committed per match.

Chelsea women’s V Man City Women’s this 2023/2024 WSL season, on the 9th October. The game ended with a 1-1 score and a total of 12 yellow cards given. Some fans suspect foul play is proper to each player, others believe the referee was just being soft. Man City women’s manager Gareth Taylor said, “It’s going to send a message to people who haven’t watched us that we are a dirty team”, after two of his Man City players got sent off.


Despite the growth in red and yellow cards being given, within both men and women’s football games, the game has not gone soft, there are thousands of supporters who watch these games every weekend for the entertainment purposes, such as aggression between teams.

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May 2024