Scotland World Cup play-off suspension boost as Fifa set to approve yellow card amnesty

Scotland could be set for a yellow card reprieve ahead of the World Cup play-offs after it emerged that FIFA will approve any bid to scrap accumulated bookings from the group stages.

John McGinn and Che Adams are among eight Scotland one booking away from being suspended from a potential World Cup play-off final. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
John McGinn and Che Adams are among eight Scotland one booking away from being suspended from a potential World Cup play-off final. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Steve Clarke's side face losing up to eight players for a potential final, including Andy Robertson, Billy Gilmour, Che Adams, John McGinn and Stephen O’Donnell, all of whom walked a suspension tightrope in last week's 2-0 win over Denmark.

The players avoided picking up any bookings that would have ruled them out of the semi-final, however, as things stand, those players, plus Scott McTominay, Jack Hendry and Kevin Nisbet, would be banned for the final - should Scotland make it - if they are cautioned in the opening play-off game.

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Scotland are not alone in facing a potentially difficult situation. A total of 107 players across 12 teams go into the March showdowns one yellow card away from a suspension.

But according to ESPN, any request from UEFA for an amnesty to have all bookings wiped at the end of the group stage is likely to be approved by FIFA. The report states that as of Friday morning, UEFA had not asked the world governing body for this amendment, but that a number of the nations had already requested the change and that UEFA is canvassing opinion from all teams in the play-offs before making a decision.

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."

Scotland and the other teams who played 10 group matches feel particularly hard done by compared to those nations who only had to play eight.

Speaking last week, Clarke called for all 12 teams taking part to hold a suspension summit before the play-off draw, which takes place in Zurich on Friday, November 26.

"If all the teams that are involved in the play-offs could have a little head to head and decide .. but they would have to do it very quickly,” said the Scotland head coach.

“If it happened it would be good for all the countries involved. 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.

His comments were backed up by Wales boss Robert Page, who has Aaron Ramsey among seven players on a yellow.

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"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."

Turkey stand to be the worst affected with 13 players in danger of missing a possible final, while Euro 2020 winners Italy have 10, the same number as Sweden, Poland and North Macedonia. Portugal have the fewest with six players on a yellow card.

According to the ESPN report, players who are already due to serve a suspension for the semi-finals, such as Sweden's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will still be unavailable.

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