Football Matches With The Most Red Cards – Argentina Cup Final Joins The List

Most Red Cards
Photo Credit: AP

A remarkable 10 dimissals were dished out in Argentina’s Champions Trophy Final, ranking the game high on the list of football matches with the most red cards. The feisty South American fixture in November 2022, featured Boca Juniors and Racing Club battling for the honours.

The match grabbed global attention because of a stunning conclusion with so many sendings off. Referee Facundo Tello was the man at the centre of attention. The red card was flashed around after an ugly melee ensued between players late into stoppage time.

It was a staggering conclusion to the match. It was headline-making sports news, and so it prompts us to look at some matches from history which have seen the most red cards.

Most Red Cards – Facundo Tello Dishes Them Out

You don’t get a match with ten red cards shown and not put some attention on the referee. Facundo Tello showed his stern hand in Argentina’s Champions Trophy Final. Tello is going to be on referee duty at the 2022 World Cup and this match is going to be talked about whenever he officiates there.

Tello sent off seven Boca players and three from Racing in November’s Argentina Cup Final. The Argentine has been a listed with FIFA since 2019. He started operating in the Argentina Primera Division, the top-flight in the country, back in 2013. So he is an experienced referee.

Argentina Cup Final Red Card Flurry

Just what happened in the Argentina Cup Final between Boca Juniors and Racing? Tello had already pulled the red card out of his pocket once during the regulation 90 minutes of the Cup Final.

In the 95th minute it came out again. Boca’s Sebastian Villa was the sent to the dressing room after clashing with Racing’s Johan Carbonero. You would think that the stern hand shown by Tello after that, would have sent a message to both sides.

Apparently not, as five minutes later Boca had Alan Varela sent off for a second yellow.

The major red card chaos and drama unfolded deep into extra time. It started when Carlos Alcaraz struck what proved to be a 118th-minute winner for underdogs Racing. The player decided to aggrevate the opposition supporters by celebrating in front of them with a full-on extended celebration.

Boca players weren’t happy with the antics of Alcaraz and they surrounded the player. A lot of pushing and shoving ensued. The ball was thrown at Alcaraz, who also had his ear pulled by Boca players. Alcaraz was sent off along with five Boca players when everyone was eventually separated. Racing had an unused sub dismissed as well.

At the end of it all, because Boca were reduced to less than seven players on the pitch, so the match was stopped.

Most Red Cards in Le Classique PSG vs Marseille 2020

A 2020 Ligue 1 Le Classique match between PSG and Marseille ended with fireworks. Much like the above Argentina Cup Final, there was a late melee in the match between the two rivals. Marseille have the upper hand over PSG, as they are the only French side to ever win the UEFA Champions League.

PSG had lost the 2020 Champions Final (their first appearance in the showcase match), to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. Marseille enjoyed PSG’s defeat with some social media trolling, so when the two next met, it all kicked off.

Marseille won the match 1-0. But in injury time, PSG forward Neymar was shown a red card for striking out at Alvaro Gonzales. The Brazilian’s action started a big scuffle, and PSG also had Leandro Parades and Layvin Kurzama sent off. Marseille’s Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto were also given their marching orders.

Espanyol vs Barcelona 2003 – Fiesty Local Derby

Barcelona Red Cards
Referee Hernandez Hernandez breaks up a scuffle between Espanyol’s Nico Melamed, center, and Barcelona’s Gerard Pique, 2nd right, before showing a red card to both during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between RCD Espanyol and Barcelona at the Cornella-El Prat stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Feb. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

In La Liga back in 2003, there were six red cards shown in a league match between Espanyol and Barcelona. There is not much love lost between the two local rivals.

Most of the examples of football matches with the most red cards, appear beacuse of some kind of brawl. But the Espanyol vs Barcelona match in question here was different. Each of the red cards were shown at separate times for different incidents.

Espanyol’s De la Peña was the first to see red in the first half of the match, which the hosts lost 3-1. Barcelona then were shown three red cards in the space of a crazy twenty minutes. That should have given Espanyol a great chance to get back into the match. But instead, they received two more red cards of their own.

Most Red Cards In A Premier League Match

There have never been more than three red cards shown in a Premier League match. For a fixture to be stopped, a team would have to have five players dismissed.

Premier League Matches With The Most Red Cards

Wigan vs Bristol Rovers 1997

Tempers were frayed in an old 1997 Second Division match in England between Wigan and Bristol Rovers. The first half of the fixture at Springfield Park was just remarkable. The visiting Bristol Rovers, who currently play in League One, had to start the second half with just eight players.

During the first half, three players from Rovers were given their marching orders. Defender David Pritchard was the first to see red after he picked up two yellow cards. But as the teams waited for the free kick to be taken after his second offence, it all kicked off.

A dust-up saw Rovers have two more sent off along with Wigan striker Graeme Jones for their parts in the fracas. Later in the second half, Bristol received their fourth red card of the match as midfielder Josh Low was sent packing. Wigan, who are currently in the Championship, won the match 3-0.

Chesterfield vs Plymouth 1997

There has never been an English league match in which more than five red cards have been shown. Equalising the tally from the Wigan vs Bristol Rovers match above, was Chesterfield vs Plymouth. Astonignlishly, this one happened the same year.

Plymouth had already lost a player early in the match to a red card for a bad challenge. Right at the end of the match, a brawl broke out as former Liverpool goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar took an injury following a challenge. Four players were sent off in the resulting fracas.

Records of other matches with the most red cards

  • Gremio vs. Internacional (2020) – 8
  • Recreativo Linense vs Saladillo De Algeciras (2009) – 19
  • Sportivo Ameliano vs General Caballero (1993)- 20
  • Claypole vs Victoriano Arenas (2011) – 36
  • Teniente Farina vs. Libertad (2012) -36

Fenerbahce vs Galatasaray 2002

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Referee Serge Gumienny of Belgium shows a red card to Fenerbahce’s Diego during the Europa League Group A soccer match between Fenerbahce and Celtic at Sukru Saracoglu Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015. (AP Photo)

One of the most heated rivalries in world football is between Turkish sides Fenerbahce and Galatasaray. In a 2002 league meeting, there were a total of five red cards flashed. Galatasaray received four of those as they lost 1-0.

In the 2007/08 season, a cup game and a league match between the two clubs ended with five red cards in each. The Istanbul sides have had plenty of fierce duels throughout their history. In 2012 there were a remarkable 14 yellow cards and two reds shown in a league clash between them.

Battle of Nuremberg 2006 – Most Red Cards In A World Cup Match

Do we remember the 2006 Fifa World Cup? The football match with the most red cards in history from the World Cup happened in the second round of that tournament. The fixture between Portugal and the Netherlands descended into chaos.

In total there were 16 yellow cards and four reds issued by referee Valentin Ivanov. The ref got some stick from FIFA afterwards, for not showing enough control in the fixture. The match eventually ended with both sides having only nine players on the pitch.

Portugal won the clash 1-0 at the Frankenstadion, Nuremberg, Germany, home of Bundesliga side FC Nuremberg. Tackles and the dark arts were in effect throughout the ill-tempered fixture. Former Chelsea defender Khalid Boulahrouz clattered into Cristiano Ronaldo in the first half, injuring the five-time Champions League winner.

Ronaldo had to be substituted in tears and wasn’t a happy camper, suggesting that Boulharouz had set out to hurt him. The first half of the match ended with the Portuguese down to ten men after Costinha had received a second yellow for a handball.

Come the second half, the tension skyrocketed. Portugal’s Luis Figo escaped a red after headbutting Mark Van Bommel, instead only getting a yellow. Figo was then fouled by Boulharouz, an incident which saw the Dutch player get his marching orders. That sparked a melee on the sidelines with the benches pouring into each other.

Another brawl happened when the Netherlands didn’t give the ball back to Portugal, after they had put the ball into touch a player could get treatment. Portugal’s Deco was dismissed 12 minutes from time. The final red card of the fixture happened deep into stoppage time when Giovanni van Bronckhorst saw red.

Sheffield United vs West Brom 2002 – Game Ends Early

This is one Championship match that went down for a remarkable late finish. Just before the 10th minute, Sheffield United keeper Simon Tracy was sent off. With a man-advantage, West Brom pulled out to a 2-0 lead in the second half.

The tension then went up when Blades substitute Georges Santos launched a horrendous tackle on Andy Johnson. Santos was immediately given a red card and a combination of the tackle and red card sparked a melee, which included a headbutt from Patrick Suffo on Derek McInnes.

When the dust settled, Sheffield United were down to eight players, and they had used all of their subs. The match, which had easily more than 10 minutes of stoppage time to come, could easily have seen further dismissals.

The Blades actually went down to seven players when Michael Brown (who could have been sent off two minutes earlier), left because of an injury. Another Blades player, Rob Ullathorne, then approached the referee Eddie Wolstenholme saying that he had to leave due to injury. His departure prompted the game to end because of a lack of players on the pitch for Sheffield United.

The Most Red Cards In A Match? 36!

There have been instances when a total of 36 red cards have been shown during a match. Claypole vs Victoriano Arenas from Argentina in 2011 and a Paraguay youth match between Teniente Farina vs Libertad in 2012 had the bizarre occurance.

Violent conduct and chaotic mass brawls were a feature of both. In the matches the referee in charge ended up giving a red card to not only everyone left on the pitch, but for every player and coach from each squad.