The 2024 Copa America brought about a new addition: a pink card. Everyone knows about the yellow card and red card. The yellow is for a caution, indicating to players that if they keep making cynical challenges, they will not be allowed to play. That leads to red cards, which are indications of ejections from games. This comes from two yellow cards for one player or challenges and altercations that severely go against the nature of the game.

A pink card is different from those two cards. Rather than cautioning or sanctioning players, a referee’s pink card indicates a concussion substitution. Teams must report that they are making a substitution based on a player suffering “suspected cranioencephalic trauma and concussion,” according to CONMEBOL. Rather than referees brandishing a card, teams will provide the fourth official with a pink card to differentiate the substitution.

Teams at Copa America are allowed five fixed substitutions per game. Showing a pink card to bring a player out due to head trauma will allow teams to keep all five of their substitutions. In other words, concussion replacements will not affect a team’s five changes. Players earning a pink card will have to immediately go back to the team’s dressing room to receive medical treatment. Additionally, the doctor who detected the injury, and thus forced the substitution, has a role. He or she must send a signed medical evaluation for a concussion to the CONMEBOL medical team. This shows that the player is either cleared to play.

Pink card at Copa America is concentrated effort to fight concussions

The pink card is making its debut at the Copa America. However, after July 1, FIFA will universally launch the cards. Therefore, you will be seeing more teams issue pink cards to bring players off for substitutions in the future. The Copa America is merely the first look into how it will operate.

FIFA has made a more concentrated effort to fight concussions in soccer. Head injuries have continued to be a major problem throughout the game. In response, leagues across the globe have worked to allow teams to bring players suffering from concussion symptoms off. For example, the Premier League allows ‘additional permanent concussion substitutions,’ with clear guidelines to follow to determine if a player requires a change.

Much like the Premier League’s rules, the Copa America pink card does not provide an advantage. Other rules maintain level competition between teams, even if one team has a player suffer a head injury. In other words, one team using a pink card for a concussion substitution opens the door for the rival team to have an additional substitution. Therefore, both teams would have access to six replacements, rather than the standard five that CONMEBOL allows at the Copa America.

Again, the decision comes down to team doctors. Upon evaluating a player suffering from a head injury, the team will inform the fourth official. In essence, the pink card is a way to clarify when teams use a concussion substitute.


Copa América 2024

Here are some resources to get you ready for Copa!
Copa América Schedule: Full schedule of all games for the 2024 tournament
How to watch: Information on where to find the games on TV and streaming
How to Stream Learn how you can stream Copa games live in 2024
Key Dates: Learn All the important dates to mark on your calendar
Copa (United States of) América: South America's biggest tournament comes back to the USA
2024 Soccer Calendar: Get the lowdown on what will be a busy year in soccer