World Cup in Qatar: Poland almost progressed because of yellow cards: How Fifa's fair play rule works

Saudi Arabia scored the 2-1 goal against Mexico in added time, giving the Central Americans a poorer goal difference than Poland, who tied on points.

World Cup in Qatar: Poland almost progressed because of yellow cards: How Fifa's fair play rule works

Saudi Arabia scored the 2-1 goal against Mexico in added time, giving the Central Americans a poorer goal difference than Poland, who tied on points. Mexico would have been kicked out even without conceding a goal, because they had seen more yellow cards in the course of the tournament than the team around superstar Robert Lewandowski, thanks to the fair play rule. But how exactly does the rating work?

The points of the teams will initially decide on progress in the group phase of the 2022 World Cup. In the event of a tie, the ratio of goals scored to goals conceded comes into play. If there is a tie here too, it is about who scored more goals themselves. If all of these rules don't lead any further, the direct comparison of the two teams takes effect. Incidentally, in previous tournaments, such as the EM 2021 or in the Champions League, this had drawn before the goal difference.

Even if the direct comparison does not bring any result, because the opponents in question have played against each other in a draw, or in a three-way constellation have won against each other in a way that you go in circles in terms of points and goals, then it gets adventurous.

This is where Fifa's so-called fair play rule comes into play. It's all about points again, but nobody here wants to have a lot of them.

The teams that are otherwise tied on points and goals are compared here, and whoever has the least points on the fair play account gets the nod for the round of 16.

Explained clearly using the example of yesterday:

When both games were 2-0 (for Argentina and for Mexico), Poland and Mexico had four points and both had a goal difference of 2-2. In a direct duel, they drew 0-0 and were therefore equal on all levels. Mexico, however, had picked up two more than Poland with seven yellow cards and would therefore have been eliminated at the last second even without the goal.

Incidentally, if there is a tie here as well, then the fate of the teams will be placed entirely in the hands of Fortuna. Then the lottery decision must determine the round of 16 participants. The last time this happened was in 1990, when Ireland defeated the Dutch, tied on points and goals, by draw to finish second in their group. As one of the best third-placed teams, Frank Rijkaard's team made it through and met Germany and Mr. Rijkaard in particular Rudi Völler in the round of 16. The Dutchman's spitting attack went down in history as one of the major World Cup scandals. The German team later became world champions in the final against Argentina.

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