What is the FIFA fair play tiebreaker, and how does it work? The final day of World Cup group play has already invoked the complicated procedure once, and the Belgium-England game could cause it to be used a second time. Here’s how FIFA defines the tiebreaker.
Greatest number of points obtained in the fair play conduct of the teams based on yellow and red cards received in all group matches as follows:
yellow card (minus 1 point), indirect red card as a result of a second yellow card (minus three points), direct red card (minus four points), yellow card and direct red card (minus five points). Only one of the above deductions shall be applied to a player in a single match.
It is essentially a tally of red and yellow cards for each team. It is also the only thing keeping FIFA from casting lots if Belgium and England draw in their matchup. According to the Independent, England (-2) leads Belgium (-3) by one point in the fair play tiebreaker heading into their match. The two teams would tie in this tiebreaker as well if Belgium gets one more yellow card than England in the game. If so, FIFA will literally casts lots to see who wins Group G, and who finishes second.
Here are the initial six tiebreakers that Belgium and England are currently tied.
1. Greatest number of points obtained in all group matches.
2. Goal difference in all group matches.
3. Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches.
(If teams are still tied based on the above criteria)
4. Greatest number of points obtained in the group matches between the teams concerned.
5. Goal difference resulting from the group matches between the teams concerned.
6. Greatest number of goals scored in all group matches between the teams concerned.
If either England or Belgium are able to win, the fair play tiebreaker would not be necessary
Source: Heavy Sports