FIFA is set to approve a yellow-card amnesty that would prevent players from being banned for the UEFA World Cup playoff finals through accumulated bookings, sources have told ESPN.
A total of 107 players across 12 teams go into the March playoff semifinals one yellow card away from a suspension, and if cautioned would miss the crucial final ties.
A source told ESPN that while the regulations state that the playoffs are part of the preliminary competition, and any yellow cards received must carry through, any request from UEFA for an amnesty to have all bookings wiped at the end of the group stage is likely to be approved. As of Friday morning, UEFA had not asked FIFA for this amendment.
UEFA has told ESPN that a number of the nations have already requested the change and it is canvassing opinion from all teams in the playoffs.
A UEFA spokesman told ESPN: “Some national associations qualified for the FIFA World Cup playoffs raised the issue. This is a FIFA competition and they decide on regulations. UEFA will collect the opinion of the 12 associations participating in the FIFA playoffs and will pass this information onto FIFA.”
Teams who played 10 group matches also feel they are unfairly treated compared to those nations who only had to play eight, who could have fewer bookings.
Italy have Euro 2020 heroes Federico Chiesa, Federico Bernardeschi, Lorenzo Insigne, Matteo Pessina, Nicolo Barella, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Giorgio Chiellini and Lorenzo Pellegrini among 10 in danger of suspension, the same number as Sweden, Poland and North Macedonia.
Turkey are by far the worst-affected with 13 players — essentially half their squad — in danger of missing a possible final. Sweden, with 10 in total on a yellow, could will be severely hit with five players who played every group-stage match on a booking.
Scotland could lose up to eight players for a potential final, among them Andy Robertson, Billy Gilmour, Che Adams, John McGinn and Scott McTominay, and coach Steve Clarke wants all teams to come together on the issue.
“It’s something which could possibly be addressed but that’s more a conversation for the guys above me and obviously UEFA and FIFA would have to come together and find a solution,” Clarke said this week. “If all the teams that are involved in the playoffs could have a little head to head and decide, but they would have to do it very quickly.
“If it happened it would be good for all the countries involved. I’ve got a list of most of the countries and they are all up there with seven, eight, nine bookings. It’s almost impossible to manage because you have so many.”
“I fully support it, absolutely,” Page said. “I see it especially from Scotland’s point of view because they had six teams in their group and had more games to play. It is what it is. But if we can influence a change we absolutely will.
“Whether or not we have the power or clout to do it and ask for change now and be listened to, I’m not too sure.”
Players who are already due to serve a suspension for the semifinals, such as Sweden’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will still be unavailable.
Any player sent off in the playoff semifinals would still be suspended for the final, regardless of any FIFA decision on a yellow-card amnesty.
The draw for the playoffs, which sees 12 teams battle it out for three places at next year’s World Cup finals, takes place on Friday, Nov. 26. It is likely that an amendment would need to be confirmed before the draw, to prevent any nation tactically looking to block it.