Most red cards in a game in football history
It has been said throughout the history that Football, and sports in general is all about respect for the opposition and moralistic considerations. And in many instances, it indeed has been like that. Remember when Ruud Gullit refused to play on in the dying moments of the final of 1992 UEFA European championship against Denmark after an opposition player suffered an injury?
How about last season in the English Championship when leeds United missed their penalty on purpose to honor the spirit of the game. In the end, they were not rewarded by the gods of football for their moralistic gesture and had to wait another season to finally get back to the premier league. However Marcello Bielsa and his players were applauded by fans all over the world for their fair play.
Having said all that, football has become more of an industry in recent decades and considering the amount of money involved, sometimes it is hard for teams and players to stay true to the moralistic norms of the game. Racism seems more uncontrollable on and off the field and players often indulge in violent brawls. The latest instance of this came last night in the heated encounter between PSG and Olympique Marseille when the referee showed 5 players their marching orders after a late brawl which first started between Neymar and Alvaro Gonzales.
With the PSG and Marseille game still in everyone's mind, in this article we want to present you with an interesting list of most red cards in a game in football history.
All the Matches with a Shocking Amount of Red Cards
In the following article, SportMob will go through the list of most red cards in a game in the history of football, starting with the last night's war between PSG and Marseille.
Paris Saint Germaine vs. Olympique de Marseille (2020)
14 yellow cards and 5 red cards
First in the list of most red cards in a game is last night's heated game between PSG and Marseille. The two teams are considered as the two giants of French football, just like Barcelona and Real Madrid are in La Liga. So it is not strange for their head-to-head encounters to turn out into violent clashes every now and then. Still what happened last night was extraordinary as an injury-time clash between players resulted in 5 red cards and possibly some more heavy punishments for the players involved.
The tension between the two teams actually started building up a few weeks before the game when PSG reached the UEFA Champions League final for the first time in their history. Marseille was the last team from French football to win the prestigious competition when they beat AC Milan 1-0 in 1993 and apparently they were not happy to share their historic achievement with their bitter rivals.
When PSG lost the final to Bayern Munchen, some of Marseille players rubbed sault in PSG player's wounds by posting provocative comments posted on their social media accounts. Dimitry Payet, for instance, trolled PSG tweeting a video of their shirt apparently with a star above the crest, only to reveal a Marseille jersey underneath.
Marseille won the game 1-0 after Florian Thauvin volleyed the ball into the PSG goal in the 31 minute. During the injury time, Neymar was sent off after hitting Alvaro Gonzales who Neymar claimed abused him verbally by Racism comments.
The incident resulted in a heavy brawl between the two team's players. Angel Di Maria mocked COVID-19 precautionary rules by spitting toward a Marseille player. Along with Neymar, His team-mates Leandro Parades and Layvin Kurzawa and Marseille duo Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto were sent off in one of the matches with a Shocking Amount of Red Cards.
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Barcelona vs. Espanyol (2003)
7 yellow cards and 6 red cards
Next in our list of most red cards in a game is the Catalan Derby between Barcelona and Espanyol in 2003. The derby itself is famous for being one of the most heated games of La Liga each season and the game between the two teams in 2003 certainly justified this with 7 yellow cards and 6 red cards.
Barcelona won the game 3-1 with a brace from Patrick Kluivert and a goal from Ronaldinho. Jordi Cruyff, of all people, scored Espanyol's only goal. The game itself was so violent that 3 players from each team were sent off by the referee.
Rafael Marquez, Ricardo Quaresma, Phillip Cocu from Barcelona and Ivan De la Pena, Antonio Soldevilla and Alberto Lopo from Espanyol were all sent into an early shower as the game went down in the history books with as the record-holder for most red cards in the game with the record for the most red cards in one game in La Liga history.
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Portugal vs. Netherlands (2006)
The only World Cup game in the list of most red cards in a game happened between Portugal and the Netherlands in 2006. Known as the Battle of Nuremberg, the game holds the record for most red cards in a match in the history of the FIFA World Cup.
Portugal and the Netherlands faced each other in the last-16 round of the tournament. Portugal eventually won by a goal from Maniche in the 31 minutes, but the game is most remembered for its tempestuous nature as players hit each other with heavy fouls every few minutes.
In total the Russian referee, Valentin Ivanov issued 16 yellow cards and 4 red cards. Two players of each team, Deco and Costinha from Portugal and Khalid Boulahrouz and Giovanny Van Bronkhorst from the Netherlands were sent off.
Despite all the violence, the scene most remembered from the game had a friendly nature to it as Barcelona teammates shared a chat in the tunnel doorway after being sent off by the referee.
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Bristol Rovers vs. Wigan Athletic (1997)
5 red cards
The record for most red cards in a game in the history of English football was set in two games, both happened in 1997 and both had 5 players shown an early shower.
The first game was between Chesterfield and Plymouth Argyle. A Plymouth player was sent off in the early stages of the game for a heavy foul. But the real brawl happened in the dying moment when an injury to the famous goalkeeper, Bruce Grobbelaar turned into a mass clash between players, and four more players were sent off as a result.
The second record holder for the record of most red cards in a game happened the same year between Bristol Rovers and Wigan Athletic with 5 red cards, four of them issued in the first half. The referee, Kevin Lynch first sent off a defender from Bristol because of two bookings. Then a brawl right at the first-half injury time forced the referee to use his red card three more times. One player from Wigan and two from Bristol were sent off as Rovers ended the first half with only 8 players left.
Incredibly another Bristol player was sent off in the second half to wrap up one of the most violent matches with a Shocking Amount of Red Cards.
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Gremio vs. Internacional (2020)
6 yellow cards and 8 red cards
It's perfectly common to see South American teams in the list of most red cards in a game in soccer history, given their high temper attitude in the pitch. One of the best examples of this is the Porto Alegre Copa Libertadores group stage derby between Gremio and Internacional in 2020.
The brawl started after a late incident between Moisés and Pepe and took over ten minutes to suppress. As a result the Argentinian referee, Fernando Rapallini sent off 8 players in total, including six on-field players and a substitute per team. (Cuesta, Edenílson, Bruno Praxedes and Moisés from Internacional and Henrique, Paulo Miranda, Luciano Neves and Pepe from Gremio)
The game finally ended 0-0 after 106 minutes of heavy clashes with 36 fouls committed from opposition players. Weeks later, the competition underwent a suspension as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic affecting South America.
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Recreativo Linense vs. Saladillo De Algeciras (2009)
19 red cards
Till now all the matches in our list of most red cards in a game had a maximum of 8 red cards. Now we tell you about three more matches with an unbelievable record of 19 and above red cards. The first one of these happened in 2009 between two Spanish lower division teams, Recreativo Linense and Saladillo De Algeciras in the Cadiz region.
According to the Spanish newspaper, Marca Spanish referee Jose Manuel Barro Escandon sent off 19 players after a mass brawl in the second half. Recreativo was winning 1-0 when one of their players was red-carded in the 54th minute. The violence between the opposition players got so bad that the referee abandoned the game, went to his locker room, and issued nine further red cards to nine players from each team.
According to Guardian, the Recreativo coach, Sebastián Naranjo, suggested in an interview with Spanish radio after the game that it might have all been rather overblown in any case. "The players who intervened, and even the spectators, were just trying to see that things didn't get worse," he said. "I don't know what happened to the guy ... The referee has set a new record."
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Sportivo Ameliano vs. General Caballero (1993)
20 red cards
The game between Sportivo Ameliano vs. General Caballero in 1993 was recorded in the Guinness record books as most red cards in a soccer game with 20 red cards until our last game of this list broke its record.
In the game between the two team's youth match in Paraguay, the referee amazingly showed 20 players their marching orders. According to Guardian, The incident occurred when two of Sportivo Ameliano players were sent off. Players clashed with each other continuously for ten minutes and finally, the referee decided to send off another 18 players and abandon the game.
Claypole vs Victoriano Arenas (2011)
36 red cards
The first of the two games which share the record for most red cards in the history of football was between Claypole and Victoriano Arenas in 2011. The crazy scenes occurred in the fifth tier of Argentine football. According to the Independent, the game turned into a mass brawl after two players were dismissed in the first half, the second red card descended into chaos when players went lunging into tackles and there were repeated stand-offs between them.
It boiled moments later when the managers and coaches enter the pitch with their fists flying. Some fans were also seen joining in. The referee, Damian Rubino had no choice but to give every single player a red card and issued 14 further dismissals to substitutes and coaches.
After the crazy game the Victoriano Arenas manager Domingo Sganga, was quoted as saying: "They wanted to kill me". Meanwhile, his opposite number Sergio Micielli says the referee overreacted to the brawl. He believed that most players were trying to separate people, but the referee got confused and sent off every member of both teams.
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Teniente Farina vs. Libertad (2012)
36 red cards
The game with the most red cards in football happened between the youth teams of Paraguayan clubs Teniente Farina and Libertad. The referee of the game, Nestor Guillen dismissed two players in the dying moments of the match for violent conduct. Amazingly, the players ignored the referee and continued their feud on the pitch and the situation soon turned into a chaotic mass brawl.
According to Independent, More amazing than the brawl was the fact that the referee and his fellow officials, instead of than trying to break up the clash, decided to flee from the scene. A decision which was heavily criticized by the presidents of both teams after seeing their teams involved in the record for most red cards in football match.
With this unbelievable game we round up our list of most red cards in a game. Which one amazed you most? Which game did you know about? Will there ever be a game with more red cards than 36? Let us know in the comments below.