Fair Play Points for Tie-breaker eliminates Senegal, Japan advances to last-16

FIFA’s fair play tiebreaker decided for the first time, which team would go through in the next round and which one would head home, as Japan and Senegal were stuck in a tie with same points, same goal difference and same number of goals scored.

When the teams were supposed to meet in their final group league match, there was a scenario predicted, which could lead to tie between Japan and Senegal. Poland’s win over Japan and Senegal’s loss to Colombia with same margin, did not break the tie which both the teams were on, before the match started.

How Fair Play points are calculated?

In short, the system rewards teams that don’t collect yellow and red cards. Here’s how it works.

Each team begins the tournament with zero points and loses points for each carded foul given by a referee. Teams lose:

  • one point for each yellow card
  • three points for each secondary yellow that leads to a red card
  • four points for a straight red card
  • five points for a yellow card and straight red card

After that, FIFA totals the number of points each team has lost, and the one with the fewest violations wins the tiebreaker.

Japan and Senegal were on tie, with 4 points each after their three group league matches. They both have zero goal difference and scored four goals each. That led FIFA to use fair play rules to break the tie.

Japan lost 4 points on account of four yellow cards that they conceded in three group matches, compared to Senegal’s 6 points loss, for six separate yellow cards. Japan will face Belgium, the winners of Group G in Rostov-on-Don.

For the first time since the Round of 16 came into being in 1986, there will be no African teams represented, with every team from the Mother Continent having fallen during the group phase.