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Men's Football Fifa defend fair play ruling

FIFA’S director of competitions Colin Smith was forced to defend today the policy of using “Fair Play” criteria to rank teams when they are level on points, goals and head-to-head records.

Senegal became the first team in World Cup history to exit the tournament because of their inferior disciplinary record to Japan in Group H but there have been no complaints about it from the African team and Fifa seems quite relaxed about its new rule.

Speaking to reporters in Moscow, Smith said: “We want to avoid the drawing of lots as we believe teams should go forward based on what happens on the pitch.

“This is the first time we’ve used it at a World Cup, so obviously we’ll review it but as things stand we don’t see any need to change it.”

Smith also explained that Fair Play criteria — yellow and red cards — have been successfully trialled at age-group and women’s tournaments and were added to the rules for this tournament in 2015.

In regard to how Fifa and the local organising committee believe the tournament is going, Smith and Russia 2018 chief executive Alexey Sorokin spoke with one voice: they are “delighted.”

Both men reeled off positive statistics on global television audiences and ticket sales, and said the feedback from broadcasters, fans, sponsors and teams has been overwhelmingly upbeat.

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