FIFA to review yellow card World Cup tiebreaker Rule

FIFA is putting a measure in place to review a rule that resulted in Senegal being ousted from the World Cup as it had more yellow cards than Japan but is not likely to remove the measure.

“We will review after this World Cup, we will see what the feedback and the situation is,” FIFA’s competition director Colin Smith said Friday, “but as it currently stands we don’t see any need to change.”

Being used for the first time at the World Cup, the rule caused a stir when the last games in Group H were being played concurrently and it became evident it would be needed as a tiebreaker between two teams finishing equal in every other way.

Japan hardly attacked at the end of its 1-0 loss to Poland and preferred instead to take a safety-first approach against a team that was already out of the tournament because it was due to qualify on its disciplinary record ahead of Senegal. At the time, Senegal was a goal down 1-0 to Colombia, which jumped from the third spot to top of the group.

Up to that time, the situation would have been resolved with the drawing of lots, which would have meant that during the match, no team would have been assured of going through in the same circumstances.

“What we want to avoid is the drawing of lots. We believe that teams should go forward on their performance and what happens on the pitch, not in a draw bowl,” Smith said.

“The preference is that slots and teams advancing are on the basis of goals and results and there are clear winners.” He said the ‘fair play’ rule was clear to all teams.

Smith added that FIFA got no protest about England’s 1-0 loss to Belgium on Thursday, which was generally likened to a friendly match because of the combined 17 changes to the starting lineups and seeming lack of attacking intent. Both teams had already qualified for the round of 16, and the losing team can face lower-ranked opponents in subsequent rounds.

This article was most recently revised and updated 5 years ago

Greg is a Sports content writer. He has many years of experience in Sports Writing. He was a writer for Opera News and is Editor-in-Chief at GoalBall.