FIFA preserves around 100 European players from suspensions due to yellow cards in the play-off finals

FIFA announced on Monday that they removed the threat of bans for players participating in the play-offs of the European World Cup qualifiers. UEFA had previously asked the world governing body for help in clearing the files of footballers of the twelve involved national teams. More precisely, it concerns those players who received only one yellow card during the group phase.

In concrete terms, FIFA’s concession means that a player will not face a suspension for a single yellow card in one of the six semi-final matches. These matches will be played on Thursday, 24 March. Thereafter, the finals will follow on Tuesday, 29 March. This decision benefits around 100 footballers.

An inequality of opportunity was removed

The reason for the request by UEFA had been an inequality of opportunity. In one half of the groups each team had ten matches on the programme, and in the other half each side played eight matches. As a result, in the groups of five teams, and thus with eight matches per team, there was a lower probability of seeing yellow cards.

Four of the five groups of five featured participants in the 2021/2022 Nations League Final Four tournament. Two of them, Portugal, and Italy, failed to live up to their role as favourites in the World Cup qualifiers. Now, they must compete in the play-offs. The titleholders at the 2016 and 2020 EUROs could meet in the final of path C.

Assuming they prevail in the semi-final duels at home against Turkey and against Northern Macedonia. And it was Italy who were particularly affected by this issue. Here, ten players potentially facing suspensions after yellow cards in the semi-finals. That includes Federico Chiesa, who will be out for months after rupturing his cruciate ligament. However, nine teammates can breathe a sigh of relief.

The pardon does not apply to Ibrahimović

The situation is wholly different for Zlatan Ibrahimović. The Swedish star striker rammed his left shoulder into the back of his opponent, César Azpilicueta. This happened in the final phase of the showdown for the Scandinavians in Spain. Although it was an assault, Ibrahimović only received a yellow card. However, it was his second in the World Cup qualifiers. Therefore, he will miss the home match against the Czech Republic. In the second semi-final in path B, Russia will host Poland. In addition, in path A, there are the clashes of Scotland vs. Ukraine as well as Wales vs. Austria.

The World Cup finals in Qatar, which will take place from 21 November to 18 December 2022, will involve 13 teams from the UEFA confederation. Ten of them won the group stage directly. The draw for the group stage will take place on Friday, 1 April.

Alice Kopp

By Alice Kopp

Alice is half Austrian and half Italian. That's why she experienced the 1990 World Cup in Italy at first hand. And that awakened her enthusiasm for football. Since she has loved writing since childhood, Alice began to study journalism while still at school. It was very convenient for her that her class took part in a project of a German daily newspaper. She was also allowed to write for the children's pages of an Austrian daily newspaper and to get a taste of the sports department of the same medium. This is how she received her first press accreditations, which was of course anything but a matter of course for the then 18-year-old. Although she was partly advised against it, Alice decided to study journalism and communication sciences. After a few years, she decided to use the exams she had taken as an elective. Nevertheless, she applies the knowledge she has acquired in her further professional life. The same applies to her language skills. In addition to her mother tongues German and Italian, Alice is also proficient in English and Spanish. She also understands French and can use this language in research. During her studies, Alice was involved in an Austrian football club. At the same time, she wrote for a total of three Austrian portals and worked as an Austria correspondent for an Italian-language online medium. This collaboration started during Giovanni Trapattoni's era at Red Bull Salzburg and continued during EURO 2008. This gave her the opportunity to interact with Trapattoni as well as with Italian journalists. From the following year, Alice initially worked with a Swiss portal before discovering sports betting content for herself. On the one hand, this kept her in sports journalism, and on the other, it broadened her horizons. And that both in the context of the sports betting industry and with other sports as well as countries. In the field of sports journalism, she focused in particular on football from around the world, volleyball and beach volleyball. In addition, she naturally wrote several guides, bookmaker profiles, bonus articles and other content for betting enthusiasts. She did this for the same company for about ten years, writing articles in German and Italian. She also built the Italian-language website together with the managing director. Meanwhile, Alice started working with another Austrian football club. Furthermore, she joined the Association Internationale de la Presse Sportive (AIPS) in 2016. This gives her the opportunity to watch teams and athletes on the ground relatively often. Not only sports betting, but also radio In January 2019, the next step in her professional development followed. For: she started creating premium content on the topic of sports betting. In the process, she finally put out feelers to almost all countries and all continents. And this was not least due to the fact that both German and English-speaking users subscribed to her content. Nevertheless, Alice continued to use her knowledge of Italian, among other things. On the one hand, because she regularly exchanges ideas with Italian colleagues, and on the other, because she works with a web radio station. The Corona crisis had a strong impact on the sports world and on interest in sports betting, primarily in the early days. Therefore, a fresh start was necessary and, on balance, Alice found the fields of activity that suited her best. She also writes articles for an agency on almost all disciplines as well as on eSports and content for a German online medium. Alice is half Austrian and half Italian. That's why she experienced the 1990 World Cup in Italy at first hand. And that awakened her enthusiasm for football.