What happens if a goalie gets a red card? Soccer explained

What happens if a goalie gets a red card? Soccer explained

Claudia Kogi
February 16, 2024 at 11:13 AM
In this article:
Gianluigi Buffon logo
G. Buffon
Parma logoGItaly logo
Real Madrid logo
Real Madrid
Juventus logo

In the dynamic realm of soccer, where moments of triumph and controversy often intertwine, it sometimes ends poorly according to fans' expectations. While players are used to being issued yellow cards as warnings and reds as suspensions, fans have wondered, what happens if a goalie gets a red card? Do they also get issued with the red cards?

Goalkeeper Andreas Luthe receives the red card during a match between FC Schalke 04 and 1. FC Kaiserslautern
Goalkeeper Andreas Luthe (1) receives the red card during a match between FC Schalke 04 and 1. FC Kaiserslautern at Veltins Arena on 5 August 2023 in Germany. Photo: Stefan Brauer (Modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

Specific actions within football can have game-changing implications for a particular team. One of the most detrimental things that can happen to a side is when a goalkeeper commits a dangerous foul or engages in gross misconduct.

What happens if a goalkeeper gets a red card?

A red is a coach's nightmare, considering how they spend endless nights preparing strategies and formations for a soccer game. However, one red card can ruin the whole plan, especially if a team's goalkeeper is the one receiving the card.

When a goalie receives a red card during a soccer match, they are sent off the field like any other player. They will then be replaced by a substitute goalkeeper or a random team player already on the field.

A goalkeeper is often treated like any other player regarding red cards. The rules remain constant; if you get a red card, you get out, no matter your position.

The challenge comes about when the substitutions of a particular team have already been used. In every soccer match, managers are allowed only five substitutions. However, if a team utilises all of them and the goalkeeper gets a red, they must choose one player from the playing squad as their goalie.

A referee shows a red card to a goalkeeper
A referee shows a red card to goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman during the match between America and Tigres UANL at Azteca Stadium on 17 December 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo: Mauricio Salas
Source: Getty Images

So, if there is a question about whether or not a goalkeeper can get a red card, the answer is yes, as they are treated like any other player.

When can a goalkeeper be sent off?

Keep in mind that the goalkeeper can only sometimes get a red to leave a game. In this case, if the goalkeeper gets seriously injured, and the team has no more substitutions left on the bench, an outfield player might replace the goalie while they seek medical attention.

Otherwise, there are other potential reasons as to why a goalie can be sent off the pitch. One of the reasons is when they commit a professional foul, whereby a goalkeeper on the defending team illegally impedes an opposition player from scoring by holding, pulling or pushing them without attempting to play the ball.

Additionally, as per Law 12 of the International Football Association Board's Laws of the Game, when a goalkeeper denies the opposing team a goal or goal-scoring opportunity by handling the ball outside their penalty area, it is a red card offence, and the goalie ought to leave the net.

How many games do goalies miss for receiving a red card?

Like any other player, the punishment is severe, as one is denied the chance to play in future matches. According to the Professional Football Scouts Association, the period in which the suspension lasts highly depends on the intensity of the foul committed.

Referee Wolfgang Haslberger shows Rostock goalkeeper, Markus Kolke, the red card
Referee Wolfgang Haslberger shows Rostock goalkeeper, Markus Kolke, the red card on 15 December 2023. Photo: David Inderlied
Source: Getty Images

Below is a table showcasing more details regarding fouls' repercussions in any soccer match.

Offence type


Automatic match suspension/ban

Professional foul

Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by handling the ball or by denying an obvious goal-scoring chance by committing an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty



Use of offensive, insulting or abusive language towards a player or match official


Violent conduct

Head-to-head, elbowing, kicking, stamping, striking, biting, etc.


Serious foul play

Tackles that endanger the safety of an opponent, excessive force or brutality


Spitting at an opponent or other individual




When a team is out of substitutes, and an on-field player takes charge of the net, it becomes detrimental to the team, as it will be forced to play with 10 players for the remainder of the match. It can get all ugly if a player from the 10-squad also gets a red during the game. Are there any goalies who have received this intimidating card?

What are the most famous red cards by a goalkeeper?

There have been several instances of famous goalkeepers being issued reds during big leagues, and matches had to go on as usual. Some of the most talked about goalies are;

  • Gianluigi Buffon - Juventus vs Real Madrid (2018)
  • David James - England vs Finland (Euro 2004)
  • Iker Casillas - Real Madrid vs Barcelona (2010)

Who are the top goalies with the most red cards?

In soccer history, there have been goalkeepers who have received more than two reds in a season. Some of the most common names include,

  • Jussi Jaaskelainen - 4
  • Oliver Kahn - 4
  • Jens Lehmann - 7

Can a team appeal a goalkeeper's red card?

Referee Ismael Rosario Lopez shows a red card to goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera
Referee Ismael Rosario Lopez shows a red card to goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera during the match between Leon and FC Juarez at Leon Stadium on 12 November 2023 in Leon, Mexico. Photo: Leopoldo Smith
Source: Getty Images

As a matter of fact, yes. The team's manager, with his entire squad, can appeal their goalkeeper's red card if they believe it was given incorrectly. However, in such cases, the referee takes the matter to the video assistant referee, which will provide the final verdict.

What is a green card in soccer?

A green card in soccer rewards players who exhibit exemplary sportsmanship while also serving as a disciplinary measure against those who lack respect or dissent against match officials. Though not a part of the traditional system, it has been used sparingly throughout history.

Final word

When a goalie gets a red card, it often calls for swift strategic adjustments and tactical changes, especially from the team's manager. The defending team, therefore, has to adapt to ensure an effective formation and defence while considering the long-term impact on the team's morale and future games. Nevertheless, whether it is a coach, player, goalie, or skipper, a red card is severe and can hugely affect a team's performance.

READ ALSO: Juan Cuadrado's salary

Sports Brief published an article about Juan Cuadrado. He lost his father at quite a young age and had to grow up in an unsafe neighbourhood. However, it did not stop him from carving out his niche in the big leagues. Click on the link above to learn more information about Juan Cuadrado, including details about his finances.

Claudia Kogi photo
Claudia Kogi
Claudia Kogi is a Kenyan content creator with over 3 years of experience. Claudia joined Sportsbrief.com as a writer in January 2022, covering sports and relatable content.