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New yellow-card rule: Good for the game
by Mike Woitalla, June 18th, 2010 2:03AM

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TAGS:  referees, world cup

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[MY VIEW] Two yellow cards in two games still result in a one-game suspension, but FIFA has changed the stage at which a player's yellow-card slate is wiped clean. The new rule on accumulated yellow-card suspensions was designed to prevent stars from missing the final, but it could have an even deeper impact on the tournament.

At past World Cups, a single yellow card received during the group stage was deleted before the knockout stage and the count began anew at the round of 16. At the 2010 World Cup, a yellow card isn’t expunged from a player's record until after the quarterfinal.

A player who receives his second yellow of the tournament in the quarterfinal will be banned from the semifinal. But players face no consequence for a single yellow card in the semifinal. FIFA wants to ensure that teams in the final are at full strength.

The example commonly cited on this issue was Michael Ballack missing 2002 World Cup final. Germany’s best player received his second yellow of the second round in the semifinals, forcing him to miss the final, a 2-0 Brazil win.

(Under the new regulations, Ballack would have missed Germany’s quarterfinal against the USA, in which he scored the winner, because he was cautioned in the final group game and round of 16 game. And Germany may not have gotten to the final. But anyhow ...)

Under the previous format, the longest stretch a player would have to go without getting cautioned twice was three games (either in the first round or knockout stage). That shouldn't be too difficult.

Now a player must go five games without two yellows to avoid a ban.

There's big positive to the new format: it could rein in thuggish defenders.

The majority of yellow cards are handed out for fouls that stifle an attacking player. We know well enough that most defenders will scythe down a threatening dribbler if the consequences aren’t dire.

Among the promising aspects of the tournament during the low-scoring first 16 games of the group openers was that referees didn’t hesitate to pull yellow cards for the cynical fouls that plague the game.

As the tournament progresses and the cautions become more costly, defenders will have to rely on fair means to battle the skillful and creative players. That should give us more entertaining soccer and more goals.

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What do think about the new yellow-card suspension rules? What are the pros and cons? Let us know in the comments below.



0 comments
  1. Kyr-Roger St.-Denis
    commented on: June 18, 2010 at 7:25 a.m.
    Hey, if they miss the final, they miss the final; it's their own fault -- unless it's the referees' fault. In 2006, everything was the referees' fault; this time, though, the officiating has been top notch, with only one exception. (If FIFA's not going to use video review during a game, which they shouldn't, they should at least require match officials to review video evidence during halftime and after a match, and have them rescind cards given in clear error.)

  1. Milan Andric
    commented on: June 19, 2010 at 2:04 p.m.
    Actually it's not good. The officiating right now is ruining the games in case you haven't been watching or don't play soccer. The yellow cards and red cards have been flying about without any purpose. These rules are not protecting the players or making the game better, they are doing the opposite. A yellow card is a warning for doing something dangerous, like a cleat to the body or a malicious play going for the player not the ball. NOT for touching someone from behind or an accidental hand ball. A player has no control over where the ball hits them. This is a contact sport! Today I was watching the Australian and Ghana match and the Australian defender was standing in the goal and the ball literally hit him in the arm. Red card. Australia a man down, in its deciding group match paly. FIFA rules suck because they change the course of the game without good reason. (and I'm not an Australian fan). The officials are not here to be on their stage or their pulpit, the officials need to get out of the way and let the game be played. Right now from what I have seen FIFA officiating has done little good for the game lately.

  1. Milan Andric
    commented on: June 19, 2010 at 2:10 p.m.
    The two yellow-card = suspension rule should be removed all together. Yellow cards are lightly given and it makes no difference until the semifinal which at that point FIFA has already made a huge impact on the outcome of the cup. If FIFA wants to improve the game, stop making senseless rules and calls! Reserve yellows for dangerous play, not for an accidental clip from behind when someone is chasing a ball at full speed. Please stop ruining this lovely game which has no need for complex rules. It's a simple game.

  1. Adam Becker
    commented on: June 20, 2010 at 11:05 a.m.
    While I certainly agree that some of the cards issued at the World Cup have clearly been given in error, it would be a mistake to say that yellow cards should be reserved only for physically dangerous fouls. An intelligent player can very effectively ruin an attacking play with a very simple, light contact foul. If there is no yellow card to punish that type of foul, you would see a foul committed virtually every time an opponent advanced into the attacking half.

  1. Geren Nichols
    commented on: June 24, 2010 at 3:19 p.m.
    The problem with punishment in soccer is the severity jumps from completely innocuous to devestating. To get an opponent ejected or a penalty kick is so much the easier way to win a game that those skills can be more important than real skill. With a 4th official in place in professional games soccer should emulate hockey penalty box 5 minutes off the field for the first yellow 10 for a second and 15 for a red (red and 2 yellows might eject a player but allow a sub 15 minutes later). 7 on 9 might be an interseting game. And move the penalty spot back to the 18 to give the keeper something like even odds. If the foul was off in a corner of the box spot the resulting unobstructed free kick out in the corner. It looks silly how the lateral line of the penalty box seems to trip strikers.

  1. jose priede
    commented on: July 5, 2010 at 3:20 a.m.
    I could not agree more with the commentary by G. Nichols. This is why soccer/football can never make it in the US. Besides the fact there are so few real shots/chances on goal during a game, let alone scoring at all, the rules are often blatantly ignored or meticulously applied at random. The rules dont enhance, they clog up the flow of the play/game and limit opportunity, and mere 0-1 deficits can be staggering to overcome. The worse is part is watching even world class teams struggle through 120 minutes of a usually scoreless game, only to be decided by penalty kicks. I cant imagine the NBA deciding its games, or champions by free throw skills test. Too bad such a potentially interesting game is so archaic/corrupt. (The problem with punishment in soccer is the severity jumps from completely innocuous to devestating. To get an opponent ejected or a penalty kick is so much the easier way to win a game that those skills can be more important than real skill. With a 4th official in place in professional games soccer should emulate hockey penalty box 5 minutes off the field for the first yellow 10 for a second and 15 for a red (red and 2 yellows might eject a player but allow a sub 15 minutes later). 7 on 9 might be an interseting game. And move the penalty spot back to the 18 to give the keeper something like even odds. If the foul was off in a corner of the box spot the resulting unobstructed free kick out in the corner.)


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