For the first time ever, FIFA has given the principle of fair play even greater recognition by using it as one of the criteria to separate teams level on points at the end of the group phase. While sportsmanship has always been an indispensable element of the game, fair play had previously assumed no more than an educational role.  

Eager to underline its commitment to promoting the Olympic ideals, FIFA has now incorporated fair play into the Regulations for the Olympic Football Tournaments Athens 2004 and, prior to the final round of group matches (on 17 and 18 August), wishes to reiterate the criteria that will be used to rank the teams in each group (cf. article 30 of the Regulations for the Olympic Football Tournament Athens 2004).

Should the usual principles applied to determine the final group standings (number of points, goal difference, number of goals scored) fail to separate two or more teams, the result of the matches between those teams (points, goal difference, goals scored) will be taken into consideration. If two or more teams are subsequently still level, the fair play points system based on the number of yellow and red cards received will then come into play.  

Should teams still be deadlocked (and provided they have not played each other in the final round of group matches), lots will be drawn to determine who qualifies for the knock-out stages.  This draw, if required, will take place in the conference room of the media centre at the Karaskaiki Stadium (Athens) approximately 45 minutes after the end of the matches concerned on 17 and 18 August respectively. 

The same criteria will also be applied to determine the qualifiers from groups E, F and G in the women’s tournament.

In addition to using this system for the Olympic Football Tournaments, FIFA has decided to further underline the importance it attaches to fair play by adding this provision to the regulations for all of its other competitions. 

Click here  for the full text of the Regulations for the Olympic Football Tournaments Athens 2004.