Yellow card amnesty agreed for World Cup playoffs in Europe
ZURICH (AP) — An amnesty for yellow cards in European qualifying for the World Cup has lifted the threat of suspension for dozens of players involved in the playoffs in March, FIFA said on Monday.
UEFA had asked FIFA to help wipe the disciplinary records of players from the 12 European teams involved in the playoffs who were set to carry over a single yellow card collected in group-stage qualifiers.
The decision means no player can be suspended for one of the three playoff finals on March 29 for getting a yellow card in the six semifinals played five days earlier.
The ruling potentially helps around 100 players who could be selected across the 12 squads.
One reason for the request was some playoff teams had 10 games in their qualifying groups last year and others played only eight so had fewer chances to be booked.
The amnesty does not reprieve players like Zlatan Ibrahimović who are already suspended for the playoff semifinals because of getting two yellow cards in the group stage.
Ibrahimović is unavailable when Sweden hosts the Czech Republic on March 24. He can play if Sweden advances to play at Russia or Poland in their bracket final.
In other brackets, European champion Italy hosts North Macedonia with the winner playing away at Portugal or Turkey. Wales hosts Austria for the right to host Scotland or Ukraine.
The three playoff winners complete Europe’s 13-nation quota in the 32-team World Cup lineup. The tournament is played Nov. 21-Dec. 18 in Qatar