Why are players booked for removing their Jerseys?

Whenever a player scores a last-minute winner and celebrates by taking off the jersey, it looks very exciting to all the spectators, and it’s a great sight to watch as neutrals.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have given us some iconic images while doing such a celebration. 

When players are busy celebrating with fans the Referee is waiting to give him yellow card. But why do players get booked for a celebration let’s find out. 

Why do players get a yellow card for removing their jersey? 

Referees are bound by the IFAB Laws of the Game to show a yellow card to any player who removes his or her shirt during a celebration.

The rule first took effect in 2004 and is specifically designed for a number of reasons. First, it’s meant to curb time-wasting as much as possible, while it’s also an act that could be considered unsportsmanlike. 

What is the law regarding taking the jersey off? 

According to FIFA Rule 3 regarding foul and misconduct:  

Players can celebrate when a goal is scored, but the celebration must not be excessive; choreographed celebrations are not encouraged and must not cause excessive time-wasting. Leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is not a cautionable [worthy of a yellow card] offence but players should return as soon as possible.

A player must be cautioned, even if the goal is disallowed, for:

  • Climbing onto a perimeter fence and/or approaching the spectators in a manner which causes safety and/or security issues
  • Acting in a provocative, derisory or inflammatory way
  • Covering the head or face with a mask or other similar item
  • Removing the shirt or covering the head with the shirt 

{If a player commits multiple offenses while celebrating, it will be treated as 2 separate offenses and he will be sent off for getting 2 yellow cards.

Such an incident happened with Szabolcs Huszti of Hannover when he scored the winning goal in a 3-2  win for his team and after that, he took off his jersey and went to celebrate with the fans after climbing the fence the referee sent him off with 2 immediate yellow cards.}

What is the reason behind booking players for removing their jerseys?

FIFA has never pinpointed a particular reason for booking players for removing jerseys but there could be multiple reasons behind this such as : 

Protecting the sponsor’s investment 

Whenever a player celebrates after scoring a goal all the cameras are focused on him and the name of the sponsors on the jersey is clearly visible, but if the player celebrates by taking off the jersey then the name of the sponsors is hidden which is unfair to their investment.

To stop excessive celebration 

Football is filled with passionate fans and if a player celebrates by removing his jersey it could prove the opposition fans and player which could become a safety issue. 

To prohibit any hidden messages 

FIFA does not have any control over what the players wear under their jerseys, players might have a hidden message for their loved ones under their jerseys which they reveal after scoring a goal. 

For example when Messi paid tribute to Diego Maradona or Mario Balotelli’s why always me

Although most of these messages arent offensive but FIFA prohibits players from displaying any political or personal messages on their jersey. 

Time wasting 

To avoid time wasting, yellow cards are given for this celebration because the players have to come back on time for the match to get restarted and when they celebrate by taking off the jersey, they might struggle to put the jersey back. Because of this time may be wasted. 

A similar incident happened in 2002 when Manchester United’s Diego Forlan scored the winning goal in a 2-1 win over Southampton and celebrated by taking off his jersey.

However, his jersey got stuck in his arm and he couldn’t get it back on time before the referee restarted the match and he was forced to play without the jersey before United’s support staff helped him put his jersey back on. 

Forlan did not get a yellow card after this because there was no such rule regarding booking a player for taking off his jersey back in 2002.


Why do you get a yellow card for taking your top off?

Receiving a yellow card for taking your shirt off when celebrating has been around in football since 2004, when it was introduced under FIFA’s laws of the game in a bid to clamp down on time-wasting.

Why do footballers take their shirts off?

Some players use the tradition of taking off their jerseys for their private purposes.

Some players do it out of joy and due to the importance of the goal they score. Some jerseys even reveal a body with an advertising message or a personal greeting. Religious views were also demonstrated time to time.

Can you take off your shirt before scoring?

You can’t take your shirt off – but you can exchange shirts

Even if it is forbidden to take off your jersey after a goal has been scored, it is allowed to exchange shirts at the end of a match.

Why can’t footballers take their shirts off?

According to the Laws of the Game established by the International Football Association Board (IFAB), a player must not remove their shirt during play, including after scoring a goal, as it is considered unsportsmanlike behavior


Players get a yellow card for removing their jerseys due to various reasons but it is mainly done to curb time wasting and maintaining discipline.

Although players still take off their jerseys while celebrating knowing they will be booked because of the importance of the goal and the sheer thrill it gives them. 

What do you think?

Written by TackleFromBehind

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