In the UEFA European Championship, if a player gets a yellow card and then gets another one in one of the consecutive matches (assuming it's before semifinals), they can't play in the next match.

Is it possible that a team accumulates so many yellow cards that they wouldn't be able to play the next match because they wouldn't have enough players? What happens then? Are there any other rules about player suspensions where the whole team would get disqualified from the competition?

Just imagine a situation where every player in a team gets a yellow card in two matches.

1 Answer 1


It's possible, but unlikely.

The Laws of the Game specify that "a match may not start if either team consists of fewer than seven players". Therefore, if a team were unable to field enough players, they would be considered to have forfeited the match and their opponents would be awarded a 3-0 walkover. They wouldn't be disqualified, however - should this happen during the final match of the group stage, the players would be available again for the first Round of 16 match and the team would be able to fulfil that fixture should they have qualified.

Teams are able to bring 26 players to the Euros, so for them to be unable to fulfil a fixture, they would need to have 20 players suspended for two yellow cards. Since the suspension is applied to the very next match, this would logically require those 20 players to be booked in a single match. Teams can only play a maximum of 17 players in a single match - the starting 11, five substitutes, and a sixth substitute if the match goes to extra time - so this would require multiple unused substitutes to be yellow-carded (this can happen if, say, they intrude on the pitch without having been substituted on). And of course, the team would need to go into that match with at least 20 players on a yellow card in the first place.

Again, it's theoretically possible, but it's so wildly implausible that I doubt it would ever happen.

  • I'm not sure about red cards but there might be multi-game suspensions for that. Also players can be suspended for actions that have not been carded (see Turkey in Euro 2024 for an offensive gesture that was not carded). And there could be injuries. In theory a player could start and even stay on the field - not even moving. Commented Jul 8 at 18:32
  • @PaulPalmpje I wanted to keep the answer simple and just stick to yellow cards, as that's what the question was asking about. Obviously it's possible that players can be suspended for other reasons.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Jul 8 at 22:34

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