FIFA bans 5 Uzbek players for deliberate bookings

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ZURICH (AP) -- FIFA has banned five Uzbekistan players from an additional World Cup qualifier after they tried to manipulate their suspensions by getting deliberate yellow cards.

The players will miss the opening match of the next stage of Asian qualifying in June, in addition to sitting out a meaningless qualifier against Japan this month.

FIFA said Friday that it fined each player 3,000 Swiss francs ($3,270) and the Uzbekistan Football Federation 18,000 Swiss francs ($19,600).

Shavkatjon Mulladjanov, Sanjar Tursunov, Islom Tuhtahujaev, Server Djeparov and Vagiz Galiulin all received yellow cards in earlier qualifiers before being booked again for time-wasting late in a 3-0 win over Tajikistan in Tashkent last November.

Uzbekistan was sure to advance from its group with Japan, and the players hoped to wipe clean their disciplinary records by missing only the match against Japan.

"Between the 70th minute ... and the conclusion of the match, five Uzbekistan players -- who had already received one yellow card in previous matches in round three of the (Asian) preliminary competition -- were cautioned in separate incidents for deliberately delaying the restart of the match," FIFA said.

FIFA's disciplinary committee reviewed footage of the game and reports from match officials.

FIFA and UEFA have tried to crack down on players and coaches seeking to orchestrate the timing of suspensions. UEFA updated its disciplinary rules last June to add an additional match sanction in such cases.

The problem was highlighted in a Champions League match between Real Madrid and Ajax in November 2010. With Madrid leading 4-0, coach Jose Mourinho was judged to have sent instructions to Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos to get sent off by provoking second yellow cards for wasting time.

UEFA imposed a one-match touchline ban on Mourinho and fined Madrid €100,000 (then $133,000).