FIFA panel tightens rule on player shirt slogans

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 1, 2014 at 9:48 am •  Published: March 1, 2014

ZURICH (AP) — Players at the World Cup face FIFA disciplinary action for revealing any slogan or image on their undershirts.

Football's rules-making panel modified the law, which previously related only to political and religious statements and advertising, and agreed on Saturday it will take effect on June 1.

The panel, known as the International Football Association Board (IFAB), said breaking the rule was not a yellow-card offense, though players can be disciplined by competition organizers.

"We think it's the simplest rule for the image of the game to start from the basis that there is no room for slogans, images or alternative sponsor logos on the undershirt," said IFAB member Alex Horne, general secretary of England's Football Association.

At the 2010 World Cup final, Spain midfielder Andres Iniesta scored the winning goal then took off his shirt to reveal a statement on his undershirt dedicated to a Spanish player who died that season. That act will now lead to a probable FIFA fine in addition to a yellow card for removing the shirt.

Also, the panel rejected UEFA's proposal to remove red cards from the so-called "triple punishment" — penalty, sending off and suspension — for penalty-area fouls which deny a goal-scoring opportunity.

IFAB's new football and technical advisory panels will discuss the issue and oversee trials of rugby-type "sin-bins" where players are sidelined for several minutes for some yellow-card offenses.

IFAB approved head coverings for male and female players, and restated opposition to giving match officials access to video replay in decision-making.

The tougher rule on personal messages follows incidents this season when players including Didier Drogba of Galatasaray revealed tributes to Nelson Mandela on their undershirts.

Italy forward Mario Balotelli famously revealed "Why Always Me?" written on his undershirt in 2011 after scoring for his then-club Manchester City against crosstown rival Manchester United.

Still, the IFAB panel — comprising FIFA and the four British associations — agreed the England-proposed amendment would help avoid complications with statements having different meanings in different languages and cultures.

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