The Champions League Yellow Card Rule

New rule ensures fewer players will be suspended for final

Pablo Zabaleta of Manchester City is shown the yellow card during the first half by referee Stephane Lannoy during the UEFA Champions League
It is now harder for players to miss the Champions League final through suspension. Alex Livesey/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images

The Champions League rules surrounding yellow cards were changed in 2014.

Players face a one-match suspension from the completion once they have picked up three yellow cards. Previously, this meant that some players were finding themselves paying the harsh penalty of missing the Champions League final if they happened to pick up their third booking of the competition in the semi-final second leg, after picking up just two bookings in the preceding 11 matches.


Therefore, these players were faced with the unjust scenario of missing the final, while others who had picked up their three yellow cards earlier in the competition, had served their suspension, and were able to play in the final.

European soccer's governing body Uefa changed the rule ahead of the 2014-15 edition of the Champions League, whereby any yellow cards accrued are wiped out after the quarter-final stage. This means that the only way a player would miss the final through on-field ill-discipline is if they are given a red card in one of the two semi-finals, or if they are handed a ban retrospectively.

The rule was first implemented at Euro 2012 and also applies to the Europa League.

Xabi Alonso and Pavel Nedved are high-profile examples of players who have missed the Champions League final after picking up their third booking of the tournament in the semi-final second leg.

The rule change is designed to ensure that the Champions League showpiece has as many of the top players featuring as possible.