Fair play rule which burned Senegal to be reviewed

Fair play rule which burned Senegal to be reviewed
epa06847845 Moussa Konate of Senegal reacts after the FIFA World Cup 2018 group H preliminary round soccer match between Senegal and Colombia in Samara, Russia, 28 June 2018.

by Graeme Jackson

Saturday Jun 30, 2018. 09:25

FIFA have revealed that they will review the fair play rule which cost Senegal a place in the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup.

Senegal, who suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of Colombia in their final Group H match on Thursday, finished with exactly the same record as Japan.

The Blue Samurai suffered a 1-0 loss at the hands of Poland in their concurrent game, and refused to attack in the final minutes as they opted against the risk of conceding another goal or picking up a booking.

The Asian side had accumulated fewer yellow cards through the group phase and were therefore ranked ahead of the Teranga Lions. They joined group winners Colombia in advancing to the knockout phase.

FIFA competition director Colin Smith said officials would evaluate the rule after the tournament "but as it currently stands we don't see any need to change."

Smith defended the rule as preferable to drawing lots to determine who qualifies, although "the preference is that slots and teams advancing is on the basis of goals and results and there's clear winners ... the fair play criteria is an additional criteria and it's very clear."

Japan coach Akira Nishino said he had not intended to settle for a 1-0 defeat, calling his reliance on fair play "a very tough and risky situation."

But Senegal counterpart Aliou Cisse said his side did not "deserve" to advance to the knockout stage as they became the first team to be eliminated via their fair play ranking.

"We haven't qualified because of fair play. We have fewer points in fair play and Senegal doesn't qualify because we don't deserve it," Cisse said. "This is one of the rules. We have to respect it.

"Of course, we would prefer to be eliminated another way. It's a sad for us, but we knew these were the regulations."

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