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Fifa: Yellow cards stand until Quarter Finals

FIFA have announced that single yellow cards received at this year's World Cup will only be cleared after the quarter-final stage of the competition.

The move is a change from previous years where players booked just once during the group games went into the knock-out stage - round of 16 - with a clean slate.

One of the reasons for the move is to help key players avoid missing the final if their team got there.

Germany's Michael Ballack famously missed the 2002 final against Brazil after he added to his last-16 yellow card against Paraguay by collecting another caution in the semi-final win over South Korea.

A statement from the world governing body read: "During the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa, single yellow cards will only be deleted after the quarter-finals.

"This was communicated to the Participating Member Associations in circular 21, 30 April 2010."

Two yellow cards in separate matches up until that stage will still mean an automatic one-match suspension, while a straight red card will have the same consequences - unless FIFA decide to impose a stricter sanction.

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There are also fears being raised that teams like Uruguay and Mexico, who top Group A and meet in the final game, may play out a draw that will put both into the knockout stage at the expense of hosts South Africa and France.

But FIFA says it expects both to abide by the rules.

"We have a slogan which is 'My game is fair play'," spokesman Nicolas Maingot said.

"This is a campaign of FIFA, which has existed for a number of years now and we trust fully all 32 participating in this World Cup to play fair."

Both, though, are expected to go for a win in a bid to avoid likely Group B winners and one of the form teams of the tournament so far, Argentina.

Meanwhile, FIFA has denied reports that it has not allowed political questions to be asked at certain press conferences involving North Korea - one of the world's most secluded nations, who returning to the finals for the first time in 44 years.

Maingot continued: "There seems to be wrong interpretation of some words pronounced by the media officer of us, who is actually with the Korea DPR team regarding political questions.

"Indeed what he said was that 'there would be no political questions taken', but this was said upon request by the Korea DPR delegation.

"It is very clear that no FIFA officials are banning any political questions or any kind of questions asked to the teams."

He added that contrary to these recent reports, there was no indication that North Korea had been shunning the world's media by cancelling several training sessions.

"Korea DPR has had, since 10 June, six open training sessions, four press conferences and two mixed zones.

"So I would say in terms of media activities, it is completely in line with the FIFA guidelines which we give to all teams prior to a World Cup," Maingot concluded.

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