Dragged down by fan violence and match-fixing in recent seasons, Italy's Serie B is introducing virtual green cards to award instances of fair play on the pitch.

The cards will not be handed out during matches, as that would alter the rules of the game.

Instead, the referee and assistants will decide who to reward after matches - whether it's players on the pitch or bench, or even coaches.

"We need to provide good examples because clearly they're lacking lately," league president Andrea Abodi told The AP.

Respect has to come first. And that's where this green card comes into play

Andrea Abodi , Serie B president

"It's up to the referee. But they have to be extraordinary acts, not ordinary ones."

At the end of the season, players or coaches with the most green cards will be rewarded.

"It's a symbolic award," Abodi said, explaining that the initiative is in the final phase of development.

"It could be something very simple. The important thing is to recognise it when a professional does something exemplary."

One clear way to gain a green card would be to admit to a hand ball or give away a corner kick for an incorrect call.

The Serie B season opens on Saturday following a delay of several weeks due to a match-fixing inquiry. The green card initiative will not begin until next month.

One item that still needs to be determined is when to announce the green cards - either after every match or only periodically.

Serie B is also introducing oaths of fair play for club captains, coaches and presidents to be read on the pitch before the season openers.

"The referees think periodic announcements would be better to avoid linking them to controversy of specific matches while memories are still fresh.

"This is just one part of a series of initiatives on and off the pitch. Respect has to come first. And that's where this green card comes into play."

UEFA and the English Football Association also reward fair play. The FA has a Fair Play competition for Premier League teams. UEFA has Europa League spots to reward fair play.

West Ham won a place in the 2015-16 Europa League qualifying round for finishing top of the Premier League Fair Play Table last season.

Source: AP