The FIFA Fair Play Rule and how it affects scoring at World Cup matches originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The 2022 World Cup will feature 32 of the biggest clubs in the world, meaning intense competition. There is no doubt that tiebreaks are inevitable, so FIFA has developed a system to solve such issues, the last of which is the fair play rule.
Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of the competition, let’s take a look at what this rule means for the game:
What is the fair play rule?
FIFA’s fair play rule is a new tiebreaker rule introduced in the group stage of the World Cup. The rule was first placed in 2018, so this will be only the second World Cup to use the system.
In the group stage, teams play three games. In order to avoid all possible draws, FIFA has devised a tie-break system that is carried out when both teams are equal on points, goal difference and number of goals scored in the group stage.
Therefore, the results would be based on the number of yellow cards allocated to each team at the end of the 90-minute game.
How does the fair play rule affect points in FIFA World Cup matches?
These are the point deductions according to the fair play system:
yellow cards: -1
Indirect red card: -3 (due to a second yellow card)
Direct red card: -4
Yellow card and direct red card: -5 (where only one of the penalties is applied to a player in a single game)
The team with the fewer number of yellow cards wins the game.
If two teams finish the game even with fair play points, the ticket must be drawn at random to determine the winner.
Where do fair play rules apply?
Fair play rules apply in the group stage of the FIFA World Cup.
A player who receives a yellow card in two separate games will also be banned for one game.
Card counting is performed throughout the group stage and knockout stages. The count is reset before the semifinals.
When was the fair play rule applied at a World Cup?
The fair play rule was used during the 2018 World Cup when Japan and Senegal were tied. They had the same number of points (4), goal difference (0) and goals scored (4), and both drew 2-2 in their head-to-head duel.
The only way FIFA could determine who would advance to the next round (the knockout round) was to apply the fair play rule.
This made Senegal, who had two more yellow cards than Japan in group play, the first team ever to be eliminated from a World Cup tournament due to a fair play tie-break.