England’s Football Association (FA) on Monday issued new guidelines directing referees to issue red or yellow cards to players who deliberately cough at opponents or match officials.
The guidelines come into force with immediate effect and will be applied at all levels of the game.
The FA guidelines indicate that the players should be punished when “the referee is certain someone deliberately, and from close range, coughed into the face of an opponent or match official...”
It added that the offence would fall under the category of “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 guidelines clarified that the referees must not punish “routine” coughing and should remind players to avoid spitting on the ground.