Card sharps: Senegal complain they were dealt a crooked hand by FIFA’s Fair Play rule

July 2 – Senegal’s football federation (FSF) has urged FIFA to reconsider its new fair play ruling which controversially resulted in the Africans’ World Cup exit.

Senegal were knocked out after accumulating more yellow cards than World Cup group rivals Japan – the first African side to be eliminated by the new regulation after Japan and Senegal were left on the same points, goals and goal difference.

The way Japan took advantage of the new rule by passing the ball tamely among themselves in the final minutes of their game against Poland was a disgrace and led to a storm of boos that has increased the pressure on FIFA to scrap the system.

“In future, FIFA should penalise a team that plays that way,” FSF spokesperson Kara Thioune told the BBC. “FIFA has adopted a new system but does the fair play rule solve all the problems? After the game, nothing happened to either Japan or Poland. There should be some means of penalising players, coaches or teams for such an attitude.”

“The federation believes that Japan literally refused to play when it learned that Colombia had just scored a goal against Senegal, a refusal to play that suited Japan but which is contrary to the principles governing football,” the letter to FIFA stated.

“The federation is all the more shocked that the Japan coach did not deny the facts. In the post-match press conference, the latter even confirmed he had made the decision to manipulate the result by keeping the score at 1-0.

“The Senegalese Football Federation deplores the lack of fair play this Japanese team has shown. It challenges FIFA on the notion of ranking the number of cards which loses its meaning and interest when the team lacking fair play is not worried by any penalty.”

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