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The World Cup rules and regulations to keep in mind this summer

Wondering if your team will go through on goal difference, have to face the World champions in the next round, or suffer Golden Goal heartache again? Look no further, it's all explained right here.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter holds the World Cup at the draw in Cape Town

Sepp Blatter holds the World Cup at the draw in Cape Town

Thirty-two national teams will contest the 2010 FIFA World Cup. They have been drawn into eight groups of four teams. The teams in each group will all play one another once, earning three points for a win, one for a draw and zero for a defeat. The two teams from each group with the most points qualify for the last 16, while the bottom two are eliminated.

Should two or more teams be level on points after their group stage games, a number of tie-breaking methods will be used to see which team comes out on top.

First, goal difference is counted, and then the number of goals scored. If that doesn't separate the teams, then the results between the tied teams are compared, then the goal difference and finally the goals scored in the matches between the tied teams. If they still remain level, a drawing of lots will decide who qualifies for the last 16.

In the last 16, the first knockout round, group winners will play against runners-up from a corresponding group, for example Winner Group A versus Runner-up Group B. Group winners and runners up are sent to opposite sides of the bracket, meaning Germany, should it advance, could not play the other team advancing from its group again until the final.

Moreover, teams from Groups A, B, C and D stay together, separate from Group E, F, G and H teams, until the semi-finals. So, for example, the semi-finals are the first time it is possible for Germany, in Group D, to meet Italy, in Group F, or Spain, in Group H.

Goals niether golden nor silver

Oliver Bierhoff celebrates scoring the Golden Goal which won Euro '96 for Germany

There will be no more Golden Goal drama, like Bierhoff in '96

If two teams are level after 90 minutes in the knockout rounds, they will be separated by a period of extra-time. Golden- and Silver-Goal experiments (both variations on sudden death) have been consigned to the past, so extra-time will see simply the traditional two periods of 15 minutes. If the scores are level at the end of the 30 minutes, the game will be decided with a penalty shoot-out.

Each nation was allowed to pick a squad of 23 players to represent them. Final squads had to be registered with FIFA by June 1. Thereafter, coaches can only call up a replacement until one day before his team's first game in the competition, should a player within his squad be seriously injured.

Yellow and red cards apply as always. A player will be suspended for one game after picking up two yellow cards. After the quarterfinal stage, however, all previously accumulated yellows expunged from his record. When a player is shown a red card, the FIFA Disciplinary Commission will decide whether his suspension should be increased from the minimum of one game.

Author: Jens Krepela / tms
Editor: Matt Hermann

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