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Card sharp

Are we set to see a flurry of yellow and red cards flourished at this years World Cup?

The respective World Cup officials met yesterday to discuss the document sent out by FIFA's head of refereeing which aimed to ensure 'player safety which is paramount' and to 'protect the skilful players'.

Areas covered are definite yellows for shirt pulling, simulation and reckless use of the elbow whilst intentional elbowing and handballs in certain situations will result in a straight red.

Perhaps the biggest change to be introduced though is the straight red card offence for 'lunging', with the edict to referees apparantly stating:

"Whether with one or two feet, players who lunge for the ball and make contact with an opponent must be dismissed".

Potentially, this is a very grey area and could see some very interesting (and controversial) decisions during the opening stages of the tournament depending on how strict the guidelines handed down by FIFA are. For this, the report says:

"It is key that we enforce from match one or credibility will be lost".

It is a concern that whenever FIFA issue guidelines to referees is that the officials then feel they are obliged to almost look fo decisions which will support what FIFA are trying to achieve (whether right or wrong).

One thing in the favour of high refereeing standards is that the panel of officials has been cut from the last tournament which saw several contentious decisions made by referees not upto the required standard.

With the worlds best players on show during the tournament you want to see these players allowed to express themselves but you wonder at what cost this may be if it results in a rash of incorrect cards being handed out.