ZURICH: 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 semi-finals 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 Ibrahimovic who are already suspended for the playoff semi-finals because of getting two yellow cards in the group stage.

Ibrahimovic is unavailable when Sweden host the Czech Republic on March 24. He can play if Sweden advance to play at Russia or Poland in their bracket final.

In other brackets, European champions Italy host North Macedonia with the winners playing away at Portugal or Turkey. Wales host 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 line-up. The tournament is played from Nov. 21 to Dec 18 in Qatar.

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2022

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