World Cup 2022: Qatar yellow and red card rules explained - do cautions get wiped after group stage?

Players are already being suspended after just two rounds of the group stage

FIFA had threatened to give the England captain an instant yellow card if he decided to wear the rainbow armband during a World Cup game in Qatar. The Football Associations of Wales, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands and Switzerland have also publicly announced they will no longer wear the armband.

The band contains the rainbow colours associated with the Pride flag and had been set to be a strong statement in Qatar, a country which criminalises same-sex relationships. Wales skipper Gareth Bale was due to wear it in their opening match against the United States.

But how have the FA reacted to the threats from FIFA and what are tournament rules in Qatar 2022? This is everything you need to know about the tournament rules, including yellow and red cards, and how teams will be affected during the knockout stage of the competition.

Will Harry Kane wear the OneLove armband?

The English and Welsh Football Associations have issued a statement which confirms that captains Harry Kane and Gareth Bale will no longer wear the OneLove rainbow armbands.

The two captains had planned to wear the rainbow armbands throughout the tournament as a sign of solidarity with the LGBT + community. However, they have since decided against wearing them due to the threat of sanctions from football governing body FIFA.

A statement confirmed: “FIFA has been very clear that it will impose sporting sanctions if our captains wear the armbands on the field of play.

“As national federations, we can’t put our players in a position where they could face sporting sanctions including bookings, so we have asked the captains not to attempt to wear the armbands in FIFA World Cup games.

“We were prepared to pay fines that would normally apply to breaches of kit regulations and had a strong commitment to wearing the armband.

“However, we cannot put our players in the situation where they might be booked or even forced to leave the field of play.”

England’s forward Harry Kane  gives a press conference ahead of opening game against Iran. (Getty Images)
England’s forward Harry Kane  gives a press conference ahead of opening game against Iran. (Getty Images)
England’s forward Harry Kane gives a press conference ahead of opening game against Iran. (Getty Images)

What are the rules regarding existing suspensions?

Given the competitive nature of the tournament, football fans can expect to see lots of players flying into tackles - and plenty of bookings and suspensions.

FIFA have confirmed that any existing yellow cards received from a player in the preliminary round of the tournament such as play-off games or qualifiers will be wiped out ahead of the tournament.

However, if a player has received a suspension as a result of a red card during the preliminary stages of the tournament their suspension will be carried over into the World Cup group stage.

What are the rules on yellow and red cards during the group stage?

During the World Cup, if a player is given a yellow card during two different games in the tournament, he will automatically be suspended from the team’s next fixture.

Likewise, if a player is sent off at any point during the game they will be suspended from participating in their team’s next match.

Depending on the nature of the red card and the extent of the foul, FIFA can also add on further sanctions if deemed necessary.

Are cautions wiped out after the Group Stage of the World Cup?

Yellow cards are wiped out at the end of the quarterfinal round and just before the semi-final stage of the World Cup. This means that any yellow cards that are picked up in the group stage will be carried through into the first two knockout games - the round of 16 and the quarterfinal.

However, this hasn’t always been the case in the World Cup. Prior to 2010, yellow cards were wiped out after the initial group stage of the competition to give players the chance to reset as they headed into the knockout stage of the competition.

Why did FIFA change the rules on yellow and red cards?

FIFA wanted to ensure that the best players in the competition were able to represent their countries in the World Cup final, if they made it that far.

By wiping out yellow cards ahead of the semi-final, it reduces a teams chances of missing any key players, meaning the only way a player can miss a final of the World Cup is if they are sent off during the semi-final game.

There are benefits and drawbacks to the new system, with some experts arguing that the new system rewards teams in the later stages of the tournament as it allows them to field the best possible line up for the final.

On the other hand, others have said that the old system benefited 16 teams as the slate was wiped during the knockout stages and have claimed that the new system only benefits four teams.

The new system adopted in the World Cup since 2010 is also used in the Champions League.