Can Football Players Get A Yellow Card For Showboating

Can You REALLY Get A Yellow Card For Showboating? (Explained)

Last updated on January 26th, 2023

While you are watching a football game, you may see some players performing dribbling tricks to get past the defender.

However, there may be scenarios where the football player is considered to be ‘showboating‘, which can be seen as disrespectful.

Can he get a yellow card, and is showboating an illegal move in football?

Here’s what you need to know.

What does showboating mean in football?

A player is considered to be showboating in football when he does an unnecessary trick that has the intention of showing off his own skills, rather than trying to use that trick to get past a defender.

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There is a rather fine line between a dribbling trick, and a player who is showboating.

There are some players who are extremely skilful and can dribble past many defenders.

These types of skills can be really useful to get around tight areas in the penalty box.

However, there are other times when a player does an unnecessary skill, mainly to entertain the crowd.

This usually occurs when the team has a huge lead over the opponent.

One example of a player showboating was when Mario Ballotelli attempted a trick shot to score a goal against LA Galaxy in this friendly match.

You can find out why MLS teams don’t play in the UEFA Champions League, but in the CONCACAF Champions League instead.

This showed a lot of disrespect to the opponents, and his manager, Roberto Mancini eventually substituted him off because of his failed trick shot.

In another example, Nabil Fekir started to do some kick-ups in a La Liga match between Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao.

In the subsequent scuffle, he was eventually shown a red card for retaliating to Iker Muniain.

What is wrong with showboating in football?

Showboating is considered to be disrespectful to the opponent, as the player seems to be mocking or taunting the opponents, especially if the player’s team has a huge goal advantage.

In football or even sports in general, one of the key elements is about having respect for your opponents.

Even though you may be much better than your opponents, it does not give you the right to showboat in front of them!

Some of the skills that can be done with a football are performed by freestylers, which can be very entertaining.

However, if these skills are performed in an official football match, it will be seen as showing a lack of respect for your opponents.

Showing respect to your opponent is part of the game

While you are leading your opponents by a large score, it is still important to show respect to the opponent team.

In the famous 7-1 victory in the World Cup match between Brazil and Germany, Germany was already 5-0 up before halftime.

However, Germany’s team manager Oliver Bierhoff wanted the German players to continue playing seriously, and not to ridicule Brazil.

Mats Hummels also mentioned that Germany did not want to embarrass the Brazilian team by performing unnecessary tricks during the match.

Can you get a yellow for showboating?

Based on the Laws of the Game, it is possible for a football player to be given a yellow card for unsporting behaviour by showing a lack of respect for the game.

A player can be given a yellow card if he is guilty of unsporting behaviour, and here are some of the categories that are deemed to be unsporting behaviour:

IFAB Lack Of Respect Game

There are other offences that may result in a yellow card, such as when a player takes his shirt off.

Not much is said regarding the definition of ‘lack of respect for the game‘. However, it is possible for showboating to be classified under this category, as the player is showing a lack of respect to his opponents, and as an extension, the game of football.

This is still quite contentious as the IFAB does not give exact examples of what they mean as a ‘lack of respect for the game’. As such, it is really up to the interpretation of the referee to decide whether the player should be booked or not.

Why did Neymar get booked for rainbow flick?

Neymar could have received a yellow card for performing a rainbow flick which could be deemed as showing a lack of respect for his opponents and the game. Another interpretation could be that Neymar was given a yellow card for arguing with the referee after he told Neymar to stop provoking his opponents.

In the video, it could be seen that the referee initially did not give the yellow card right away after Neymar performed a rainbow flick.

Instead, the referee went to Neymar and spoke to him, probably to tell him not to perform such tricks during the game.

However, Neymar started arguing with the referee, which ultimately led him to receive a yellow card.

As such, it could be interpreted that the referee gave Neymar a yellow card for dissent, rather than for performing a rainbow flick.

Interestingly, in a match between Nice and PSG, Amine Gouiri performed a rainbow flick in front of Neymar.

However, Gouiri was not given a yellow card for this trick.

This sort of gave Neymar his ‘just dessert’ by having his own trick performed in front of him!

Neymar has done several rainbow flicks in the past too

Neymar has been a rather ‘showy‘ player, where he likes to perform various skills on the pitch, such as the rainbow flick.

In fact, he has done the rainbow flick quite a few times in Barcelona, such as this match against Celta Vigo in La Liga.

Interestingly, he was not given a yellow card for this trick.

Once again, he performed another rainbow flick in the Copa del Rey final against Athletic Bilbao.

You can find out the differences between La Liga and the Copa del Rey here.

This infuriated the opponents, and Neymar was eventually confronted by many of Athletic Bilbao’s players.

While Neymar was given a yellow card, it was unclear whether it could be for the rainbow flick itself, or for aggravating the opponents.

Other players have received yellow cards too

Another Brazilian player, Lucas Paqueta, was shown a yellow card, supposedly for a rainbow flick in this Ligue 1 match.

However, this was after the referee asked Paqueta to come to her, which he refused.

As such, he could have received the yellow card due to the disrespect shown to the referee for refusing to talk to her, rather than because he performed the rainbow flick.

Interestingly, Richarlison did not receive a yellow card after he did some kick-ups in a Premier League match against Nottingham Forest.


Showboating and rainbow flicks in particular are a rather contentious topic. This is because some people may see it as just playing football, while others may see it as showing disrespect to the opponents.

Since the Laws of the Game does not have a clear rule to say that players who showboat should be given a yellow card, it will be up to the referees’ interpretation to decide if a player should be booked or not!

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