Football players who deliberately cough on their opponents or referee will now be issued with either a red or yellow card. This is according to the new guidelines issued by England’s Football Association (FA) due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.

The instructions, which will take effect immediately, have been issued to referees who will be in charge of all the games during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the FA document for referees, action will be taken if “the referee is certain someone deliberately, and from close range, coughed into the face of an opponent or match official.”

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The offense will fall under “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”.

“If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour – shows a lack of respect for the game’.”

However, the document has cautioned referees against punishing “routine” coughing. The referees have been urged to tell the players not to spit on the ground even though it’s not an offence.