Referee Mark Geiger from the US gestures before the VAR decision on the Korea goal during the group F match between South Korea and Germany, at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, Wednesday, June 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

The Latest: Referees mellow on yellow cards for VAR appeals

June 29, 2018 - 10:31 am

MOSCOW (AP) — The Latest on Friday at the World Cup (all times local):

5:20 p.m.

FIFA is content for now not to give yellow cards to players who appeal for video reviews with a TV-screen gesture.

Referees can caution players for gestures like showing an imaginary card to an opponent, or sarcastically applauding a call, but they haven't yet booked any of the numerous players pleading for a Video Assistant Referee review.

FIFA's referee committee head Pierluigi Collina says making the gesture is fine if it's "not in a disrespectful manner."

With the many different languages spoken by referees and players at the World Cup, Collina says "sometimes making the shape of the TV screen is a way to use a word you don't know."

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5:05 p.m.

FIFA says TV viewers could maybe listen in to World Cup referees' deliberations live in the future.

After screening clips of referees talking to the video assistant referees during World Cup group games, FIFA's refereeing committee head Pierluigi Collina says "it's something that could be interesting to be offered, because if you make known why now a decision was taken, maybe you can clarify and get this decision better accepted by the football community."

Collina says the VAR system is new and "before running you have to learn to walk."

Some sports such as rugby do broadcast referee's discussions with other officials and with players.

However, FIFA deputy secretary general Zvonimir Boban has pushed back against the idea, saying "it's very difficult in a competition like the World Cup" because of the various languages spoken by referees and viewers, and could be "impossible."

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4:30 p.m.

Left-back Benjamin Mendy has been ruled out of France's round-of-16 World Cup match against Argentina because of a muscle injury.

France coach Didier Deschamps says Mendy, who returned from injury to make an appearance as a substitute in France's last group game against Denmark, "has a little muscular problem and won't be available tomorrow." He did not disclose any detail of the injury.

The attack-minded Mendy was included in Deschamps' squad for the World Cup despite his lack of playing time with Manchester City. Mendy only returned to competition from a serious knee injury in April.

Mendy's absence means Atletico Madrid defender Lucas Hernandez will start at left-back against Argentina.

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4 p.m.

A Russian governor has claimed Germany's elimination in the group stage of the World Cup was because "history and time" interfered.

Oleg Korolyov, the governor of the Lipetsk region near the Ukrainian border, posted on Twitter that "Germany performed disgracefully at the 2018 World Cup only because on this land they unleashed two World Wars and the souls of tens of millions of victims took revenge and will take revenge on them," in the future.

Germany slumped out of contention in the opening stage of the World Cup for the first time since 1938 after losses to Mexico and South Korea and a narrow win over Sweden.

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3:50 p.m.

A Moscow airport says that a man has made a false claim about having a bomb.

The Domodedovo airport says in a statement that a man entering the terminal told guards at the entrance that he had an explosive device. The subsequent check found that there was no threat.

The airport said Friday's incident hasn't interrupted its normal operations.

Russian authorities have maintained rigorous security procedures in Moscow and other Russian cities hosting the World Cup

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2:30 p.m.

FIFA says VIP fans are often to blame for empty seats at its World Cup games.

Empty seats have been seen, often in prime positions, during numerous games, including some which were officially sold out. That's because FIFA measures its 98 percent attendance rate for the World Cup based on the number of tickets sold and delivered, rather than the number of people who attend the game on the day.

FIFA competitions director Colin Smith says "we want every seat filled inside the stadium. The reality is that there are some no-shows."

He adds empty seats are often caused by VIP fans either choosing to watch part or all of the game in an indoor hospitality area. If they don't turn up at all, Smith says, security concerns mean their seats sometimes can't be redistributed because "in certain cases it may be difficult at short notice to have access for general public fans at the VIP areas."

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2:15 p.m.

England midfielder Fabian Delph is returning home temporarily from the World Cup because his wife is due to give birth to their third child.

The English Football Association says Delph flew home from Kaliningrad, where he played for England in its 1-0 loss to Belgium on Thursday.

England next plays on Tuesday in a last-16 match against Colombia in Moscow.

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2:03 p.m.

FIFA says it will review a rule that saw Senegal eliminated from the World Cup because it had more yellow cards than Japan.

The rule, in use for the first time at the World Cup, meant Japan barely attacked in the end of its 1-0 loss to Poland on Thursday because it was due to qualify on its disciplinary record.

FIFA's competition director Colin Smith says officials will evaluate the rule after the World Cup "but as it currently stands we don't see any need to change."

Smith defends the rule as preferable to drawing lots to determine who qualifies, although "the preference is that slots and teams advancing is on the basis of goals and results and there's clear winners ... the fair play criteria is an additional criteria and it's very clear."

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12 p.m.

Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic says teammate Luka Modric plays football "from a different planet" and is the best to have ever played for their national team.

Rakitic grew up idolizing Croatia midfield great Robert Prosinecki but says Modric, now a four-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid and Croatia's captain at the World Cup, is at the next level.

Rakitic says "not only is Luka the best player ever (for Croatia), but he is a great person, a leader and we are following him."

Croatia plays Denmark in the last 16 at Nizhny Novgorod on Sunday.

With many of Croatia's so-called golden generation into their 30s, including Modric and Rakitic, every game now is potentially their last together at a major tournament.

Rakitic says "if we at the end manage to lift this trophy, we go into international retirement happy."

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8:20 a.m.

Japan soccer fans debated their team's controversial tactics at the World Cup, with most accepting them as an inevitable outcome of the tournament's tiebreaking format.

Japan lost to Poland 1-0 in their final group game on Thursday in Russia. Despite the loss, Japan advanced to a round-of-16 match against Belgium because it received fewer yellow cards than Senegal, which lost to Colombia by the same score at the same time.

Once Colombia scored in Samara, Japan knew it had done enough to advance even though it was losing late in its match. The Japanese players slowed play down to almost nothing, softly passing the ball back and forth in little triangles in their own end to waste time.

Poland, happy to get a victory after two losses, did little to pressure Japan's players.

Japanese fans celebrated the team advancing, and former players and soccer commentators supported Japan coach Akira Nishino.

"It was a difficult decision by Nishino but the correct one," said soccer commentator and former player Tetsuo Nakanishi.

Company employee Makoto Uchida said: "It wasn't pretty near the end, but the team did what it had to do. I'm happy we are going to the next round."

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