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WORLD CUP 2022

Are yellow cards wiped after the World Cup 2022 group stage?

FIFA’s rules on accumulated yellow cards are designed to prevent players from missing the World Cup final through suspension.

Update:
FIFA’s rules on accumulated yellow cards are designed to prevent players from missing the World Cup final through suspension.
ALBERTO PIZZOLIGetty

A 2010 rule change by FIFA, global football’s governing body, means players will have outstanding yellow cards wiped after the quarter-finals of World Cup 2022.

Players are given a one-match suspension if they accumulate a single yellow card in two separate games during the period between the beginning of the group stage and the end of the last eight.

They are then handed a clean slate going into the semi-finals (but must still serve a ban in the last four if they accrued a second booking in the quarters).

Players involved in the semis can now only be suspended for the final if they are sent off.

Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz shows a yellow card during Senegal's 3-1 group-stage win over Qatar.
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Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz shows a yellow card during Senegal's 3-1 group-stage win over Qatar.Anthony DibonGetty

Pre-2010, a yellow could rule a player out of World Cup final

Before the World Cup in South Africa 12 years ago, yellow cards were wiped after the group stage.

However, FIFA was prompted to alter its rules by notable cases of players missing the World Cup final because of a ban incurred by a booking in the semi-finals.

Memorably, Michael Ballack starred for Germany in Die Mannschaft’s unexpected run to the 2002 final, but was ruled out of the showpiece game after picking up his second yellow of the knockout stages in the last-four win over co-hosts South Korea.

The same fate also befell Italy’s Alessandro Costacurta in 1994, after he was cautioned in the Azzurri’s semi-final victory against Bulgaria.

It was the second time in three months that suspension had ruled Costacurta out of a major final, as the defender also missed AC Milan’s Champions League win over Barcelona after being sent off in the semi-finals against Monaco.

Four years before Costacurta was forced to sit out the final at USA ‘94, England’s Paul Gascoigne famously cried in the Three Lions’ semi-final defeat to West Germany at World Cup ‘90, after earning a yellow card that would have caused him to miss the final.

See also:

Ballack booking key to FIFA rethink

Ballack’s absence from Germany’s 2002 final defeat to Brazil was particularly influential in FIFA’s decision to rejig its rules on World Cup yellow cards.

“We want to give the best players a chance to play in the final,” FIFA spokesperson Marius Schneider said in 2010. “The discussion first came up when Ballack was ruled out.”

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