During Arsenal's home game against Burnley, Dean Marney committed a cautionable foul against Mesut Özil which resulted in injuring himself.

The referee retrieved his card, but waited for the player to stand up before booking him. Unfortunately, the injury was serious enough that he was to be stretchered off the pitch, and the referee booked him on the ground.

I see this "book-when-standing" principle in many other matches.

Is this a matter of etiquette, or this is required by the Laws of the Game?

3 Answers 3


There is ostensibly no requirements in law that the referee wait (while the wording and structure of Law 12, in addition to all statements about time, delays and restarts, suggest that referees should aspire to the least amount of delay possible).

As a practical matter, the referee needs to ensure the player knows they have been cautioned, as that fact significantly alters both tactical and strategic choices for the player and their team. It also clarifies to other players, officials and spectators that this is the player being cautioned, especially when other players and officials are gathered around the injured player. Finally, it provides for the injured player to be treated quickly if possible, and whether they will need to leave the field so that the caution should be given prior.

In sum, it is an issue of common sense and effectiveness from several angles. I am not aware of any official materials on the matter, but it is likely some of them refer to this practise either implicitly or explicitly.


This is simply a tradition, so you will be unlikely to find an explicit reference for it. As mentioned in the other answers, ensuring the player and all other participants know who the caution or send-off signal is intended for is important, as is ensuring any player on the ground is not injured.

What has not been mentioned is that for cautions, it is desirable to elicit a change in player behaviour, since they will usually be remaining on the field of play after the caution. When a player is cautioned, the referee can save themselves a potential sending-off for a second caution by trying to calm a player down and outlining to a player that they are on their final chance.

Being cautioned with a (usually menacingly tall - most elite-level football referees are well over six feet tall) referee standing over you can be an intimidating and humiliating experience, and is unlikely to elicit a positive response in which the player listens to the referee. Therefore, the player is asked to stand - or the referee may offer them a hand up, so they are on equal footing with the referee and so that the interaction is respectful.

The referee then explains what the caution is for, and if they feel that the player is potentially in an agitated or irrational state and likely to reoffend, reminds them that if another offence of a similar nature occurs, they will have no choice but to send them off and that they would much rather that the player stays on the field. If required by the competition rules, the referee may also ask the player's name during this stage - in most competitions, the number suffices and the name is taken from the match sheet.

Such an interaction is not possible if the referee rushes in, stands over a downed player and flashes the card. Even in heated situations, a referee can at least sprint to the location of the downed player, with the card in hand without showing it. This way, other players know that punishment is coming and they should not retaliate, yet the referee still has the opportunity to attempt to improve the player's future conduct.


It is listed in the Fifa Law Book that it is advisable for the referee to wait for the player to stand up before booking.

It is mostly a matter of etiquette.

  • Can you provide a reference to where it says that in the Laws of the Game?
    – unbindall
    Jan 22, 2017 at 19:37
  • There's apparently nothing in Law 12 nor in the IFAB Practical Guidelines on the matter. A reference is very much necessary now.
    – Nij
    Jan 22, 2017 at 19:42
  • 1
    I've been refereeing since 2005/2006, and I can't ever remember the Laws of the Game saying this in that time. I'm not denying that it could have been present in an earlier edition, but it certainly hasn't been for some time. Furthermore, FIFA no longer publishes the Laws of the Game - publication is now undertaken by IFAB directly. Jan 23, 2017 at 5:52

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