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At Qatar 2022, we’ve seen games heavily dominated by yellows and reds – most notably Wales’ group stage clash with Iran, where goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey came off the line and Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi switched off. Hennessey was sent off with a red card and Wales, reduced to ten men, saw Iran score two stunning goals in added time to secure the unexpected win. It was the first red card of the tournament and one that undoubtedly changed the course of play.

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Less impressive but still notable, four US players received yellow cards in the Americans’ opening game against Wales (Kellyn Acosta, Tim Ream, Weston McKennie, Sergiño Dest). While yellow cards are a ubiquitous part of football, players run the risk of receiving two bookings and being unavailable when their team needs them most. Here’s the breakdown of how yellow cards result in player bans and what happens to cards between rounds of the tournament.

How many yellow cards equal a player ban?

If players receive two yellow cards at the 2022 World Cup, this will result in a one-game ban. If the player receives both cautions in the same game, he is sent off and serves the 2-minute suspension in the following game. But players can also get a ban after collecting two yellow cards in different games. So once a player has a yellow card, they’re likely to think carefully about how they approach situations to ensure they’re not knocked out at a crucial moment in the tournament.

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Are yellow cards carried over from the group stage?

At the 2022 World Cup, yellow cards from the group stage carry over to the round of 16. If a player receives a yellow card in the group stage and in the round of 16, he is not qualified for his team’s quarter-final match. However, from the quarter-finals to the semi-finals there is a “clean slate” where all previous cautions are erased, so no player in the semi-finals is in danger of missing the finals due to yellow cards accumulated early in the tournament.

According to FIFA, a suspension that cannot be served during the World Cup will be carried over to the team’s next official international match.

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What do yellow cards mean at the World Cup?

Yellow cards are essentially warnings (also known as “cautions”) issued to players by match officials for a variety of offenses – these can include poor sportsmanship, delaying play, intentionally injuring another player, failing to keep the required distance from the ball in a penalty shoot-out , improper language or other situations determined by the on-field referee and the video assistant referee. If a player receives multiple yellow cards, either in the same game or across multiple games, they will receive an ‘indirect red’, resulting in a one-game ban.

Yellow cards can be a big problem for a team when key players are absent, but they can also affect a team’s chance of progressing through the tournament. The final tiebreaker to determine which teams advance from the group stage is the team conduct score or “fair play” tiebreaker, based on the number of yellow and red cards a team has accumulated. In a situation where the teams are equal on all other tiebreakers, the team with the higher Team Conduct score advances to the Round of 16.

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2022 World Cup schedule, start time, dates, how to watch live

  • When: November 20, 2022 to December 18, 2022
  • Group game kick-off times: 5:00, 8:00, 10:00, 11:00, 14:00 (all ET)
  • Location: Qatar
  • TV channels in Español: Telemundo, Universe, peacock
  • stream in Spanish: peacock (all 64 games)

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