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29 Jun 2018

Senegal first ever team eliminated through fair play rule in world cup event

Japan and Senegal were tied in points, goal difference, goals scored, and head-to-head at the World Cup, second place in Group H so the advancement to the knockout stage was decided on fair play record.

Japan had four yellow cards and Senegal six, and neither nation had a red card, so Japan plays in the round of 16.

FIFA added fair play record as an additional tiebreaker in October 2016. Under the rules of the 2014 World Cup, a drawing of lots would have been used in this situation. While a drawing of lots has never been used to decide which nation advanced, it was used for seeding when Ireland and the Netherlands were tied in 1990.

Both were assured of advancing in the 24-nation tournament. The Netherlands drew a game against West Germany and Ireland beat Romania.

Japan coach Akira Nishino said he was “forced” to tell his players to down tools towards the end of their World Cup match against Poland, to secure last 16 qualifications.

With 10 minutes to go Japan were losing 1-0, but with Colombia leading Senegal by the same scoreline in the other simultaneous Group H tie it meant Japan would qualify on "fair play" with Colombia.

Despite boos ringing out, the Japanese and Polish players slowed to walking pace for the last 10 minutes.

Yellow cards often are given more in the late stages of matches, with two issued to Senegal and one to Japan from the 90th minute on when they played on Sunday.

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