Rule change doesn't affect Wambach

Updated: August 18, 2004, 1:06 AM ET
Associated Press

THESSALONIKI, Greece -- The U.S. team complained, and FIFA responded.

The president of the world soccer body said Monday that the yellow-card suspension rule has been changed for the Olympic women's tournament, easing concerns that the Americans could lose a key player for the quarterfinals.

"We will have a clear sheet when we go to the quarterfinals,'' Sepp Blatter said while greeting U.S. players at the athletes' hotel in Thessaloniki.

Under normal FIFA rules, a player who receives two yellow cards in the first round of a major tournament is suspended for the quarterfinals. Coach April Heinrichs had argued that the rule was unfair for these Olympics because not all the women's teams are playing the same number of first-round games.

Under the change, Blatter said players in the four-team Group G, which includes the United States, will not be suspended if they receive a second yellow card in their third game. The only exception would be if a player receives two yellow cards -- or one red card -- in that third game.

The rule benefits U.S. defender Christie Rampone, who received a yellow card Saturday against Brazil. She can now play in Tuesday's game against Australia without the worry of getting suspended for another yellow card.

The change does not help forward Abby Wambach, who received yellow cards in the first two U.S. games. She remains suspended for the third game.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press