October 17, 2016 - 10:53 AM
GENEVA - FIFA has blocked rock concerts from being staged in World Cup stadiums in the weeks before the 2018 tournament kicks off in Russia.
FIFA passed a rule "to ensure that the field of play is of the highest quality, it shall not be used for a non-football event" for two months before a stadium's first match.
In updated 2018 World Cup regulations published Monday, FIFA requires "explicit prior approval" for exemptions.
FIFA has also introduced disciplinary records — a points system adding up red and yellow cards — as a potential tiebreaker in the group stage when teams have the same amount of points in the group stage.
FIFA said Monday the stricter turf rule was because of overuse of stadiums and training sites in Brazil ahead of the 2014 World Cup. But it also follows issues at the European Championship in France in June.
A concert by rock band AC/DC one month before the tournament in Marseille was cited by France coach Didier Deschamps as a problem.
Deschamps called the Stade Velodrome turf a "disaster" after beating Albania 2-0. The turf had been re-laid after the concert on a tight schedule for Euro 2016 and struggled to take root in heavy rain.
"It's a disaster, but that's not surprising," Deschamps said of a field where France would later beat Germany in the semifinals. "If you have an AC/DC concert a month before the European Championships — they're changing the pitch, re-laying the turf."
FIFA can also veto matches in the 12 Russian stadiums, plus training camp and pre-match practice field sites, for one month before they are needed during the tournament.
The new regulations for the June 14-July 15 tournament updates a document produced for the qualifying stages. FIFA now follows UEFA in having "fair play" as a final group-stage tiebreaker before going to the drawing of lots.
Unlike UEFA, FIFA has retained goal difference as the first way to separate teams that are level on points. UEFA uses head-to-head record as the first tiebreaker stage in European Championship and Champions League groups.
In one minor addition to 2014 World Cup rules, FIFA now requires teams to bring spare goalkeeper kits with no names or numbers printed, for rare situations where an outfield player has to go into goal.
That happened to UEFA in a Champions League playoff in August 2014 when the Ludogorets Razgrad goalkeeper was sent off in extra time against Steaua Bucharest.
In a memorable shootout, Ludogorets defender Cosmin Moti both scored his penalty and saved two from Steaua players to help his team advance — but he did it wearing the shirt of a substitute goalkeeper with a name and number that was not his own.
The new rules also no longer state that the FIFA president will present the World Cup trophy to the winning captain.
However, FIFA protocol has long required the president and host nation head of state to jointly present the trophy. It is expected that Gianni Infantino and Vladimir Putin will do those duties at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
News from © The Associated Press, 2016