Sin Bin is a penalty for players that involves ceasing the player’s involvement into the game for a specific period by sending him to ‘sit’ in a designated penalty area.
The rule has worked well in other sports such as rugby, hokey, handball and basketball. This is what football’s law-making body IFAB will consider introducing into football instead of yellow cards at their meeting in March, the BBC reports. But will it work?
Imagine this: a team is 1-0 up with ten minutes left, when the opposition starts a quick counter-attack. If a player chops down on the one with the ball that’s an immediate yellow card for a technical foul which puts an end to the opposition’s chance of attack. But what if, the player who produced the foul gets a five-minute break from play instead of a yellow card, much like the penalty-box punishments in hockey?
The ramifications could be huge. Let’s examine some of them:
What if the player who committed a yellow-card offence is the keeper? The manager would then have to substitute an outfield player to bring in his second-choice keeper until the punishment runs out. Then he would have to make another substitution to reintroduce his keeper.
In this case, a change within the substitution rule must follow sin-bins. Any other way would throw football into Benny Hill land. Another branch football might go into is there will be more interruptions to the game, much like basketball where players leave and return to the court depending on the number of fouls they have committed. With a clock that runs down uninterruptedly, this gives a variety of tactical possibilities for wasting time. Look no further than the slow walk out a player for the winning team makes in the dying stages of the match, now double that.
On a more positive side, sin-bins would crack down on diving in football – currently an ‘offence’ which keeps the yellow card warm in the referee’s pocket. Faced with the more severe sin-bin, players would take fewer risks when trying to win a foul for their team, all the better for fluidity in the game- at least on paper.
Herein hides the beast. Referees will experience more pressure. What if a referee takes a foul for a dive? The gap in the consequences of such decisions is too huge to ignore, the potential injustices are too flammable.
If sin-bins are to make any sense, then solutions to diving should be sought elsewhere: perhaps with financial penalties off the pitch after a video material review.
Another example of where sin-bins could wreak havoc rather than apply justice is goal celebrations. Currently, if a player takes off his shirt while celebrating a goal, he should be penalised with a yellow card. However, to penalize such player with two or five-minute ban from the playing sounds harsh.
Imagine this scenario: a team scores and the celebrator takes off his shirt and is given a five-minute ban from play. The message such a punishment would send is: he is punished for showing his joy and passion for doing what he is supposed to do for his team. It’s kindergarten-ish to say the least. The thorns surrounding such danger would make any player think twice ‘how’ he is celebrating. Thought over feeling, but if one is more suited to the game of football it is, on the whole, emotion.
Sin-bins would fit right into their glove here. With the main purpose of time wasting being to keep the result, a sin-bin penalty would make it practically counter-productive for the team doing it. And this is major positive for stronger teams, the ones unfortunate to be down in result, for example.
In such cases, sin-bins could widen the gap between weaker and stronger teams and could reduce the effect of ‘luck’ in football. In reality cumulative time wasting by a team, at its worst, can eat 20 minutes off a match.
The threat of sin-bins could discourage time wasting and inject this time back into the game on the pitch. With running the clock down for a luckily winning team in the bin because of the threat of sin-bins, they would have to invest in good defensive organization instead.
Match bans for cumulative yellow cards
What’s left of the yellow card’s power is the rule of cumulative yellow cards. It can be decisive when a key club player is banned from taking part in the next important fixture. But if sin-bins are introduced instead of yellow cards, how will that rule change?
If the rule works in the same way, meaning two or more sin-bins in consecutive matches rule out a player for the next game, then this would increase the severance of punishment compared to yellow cards. Now on top of a team missing a player for several minutes, they would miss him for the full next match too. Harsh.
The sin-bin punishment establishes a need for a change in several other rules in football: the number of substitutions a team can make in a match, cumulative yellow-card rule, post-match financial penalty charges, and time rules under which football is played, among others.
With the dwindling power of the yellow card, such boost could also increase the power the referees. Thus, a wrong decision can cost a ton for clubs on the receiving end. And while the rule would require absolute compliance by players and managers, it’s very unlikely this would happen. As long as referees decide in the limited time they have, mistakes are bound to happen, and severe punishment for those unjustly accused would reap severe reactions too.
Wrong decisions. It happens.
As compensation, referee decisions could be aided with CCTV technology or to add a committee of referees who can spread the responsibility among themselves. Unfortunately, this would slow the game down, while advertisement companies raise a glass or two to celebrate the new development. Look no further than American sports, where the game gets more interruptions for ‘snack breaks’ than anywhere else in the world. The sport fluidity is low while the financial rewards for the clubs and media are high. And the hell with the fans.
Referees are the hands of football associations. Giving them more power could probably mean adding more ‘business’ to football at the expense of ‘sport’.
To conclude, here are the pros of implementing a sin-bin rule:
- Adds more excitement in number-wise mismatched teams
- Takes care of time wasting
- Deals with diving and cynical fouls
- Puts emphasis on the game on the pitch
And the cons:
- More interruptions to playing
- Strips some of the tactical influence of managers
- Affects physicality of the game
- Puts a lid on passionate celebrations
“If approved, sin-bins will come in at youth and amateur levels and could be introduced to the professional game within two or three years.” BBC reports.
The question is: will this proposed huge revamp work in football as it has in rugby? What do you think?