The Colombians will by no means be departing the Emirates empty-handed, for as well as their third place play-off win over Argentina on the 19 December 2003, the Cafeteros also scooped the FIFA Fair Play award for the tournament. The members of the FIFA Technical Study Group (TSG) examined a raft of criteria before awarding the prize to the South Americans.
With 11 yellow cards and no reds from seven games, Colombia had the best “disciplinary ratio” of the FIFA World Youth Championship. Most importantly, by finishing third in the tournament “despite” accumulating so few cards, the South Americans proved that it is possible to be highly effective whilst remaining wholly within the boundaries of fair play.
But it was not just numerical criteria which swayed the TSG in favour of the Colombians. The attitude of the players on the pitch towards both referee and opponents was also entered into the equation, as was the behaviour of every last member of staff on the bench. A further factor was their respect for the after-match handshake, a relatively recent FIFA initiative. After each game, the TSG convened to allot points in accordance with all these criteria.