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He’s sent off

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The FIFA World Cup, throughout its history, has given us plenty of brilliant moments. However, just because a moment is historic doesn’t mean it is a positive incident. And ever since its inception, the World Cup has given us moments when players lost their cool and got sent off. Red cards are an integral part of football and have been shown 174 times throughout the World Cup history. 

And some of these are remembered by fans even today, such as Zinedine Zidane’s infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi. Since the World Cup is the biggest spectacle in football, players look to give their all to help their nation. And in such a competitive environment, the margin between defeat and victory is small, often bringing out the best or the worst in a player. 

So, let’s look at the top 10 red cards in FIFA World Cup history.

Battle of Nuremberg, 2006 FIFA World Cup 

Even a single red card in a match generates much furore on the World Cup stage. So guess what happens when a game delivers four of them, and that too in a round of 16 tie. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Portugal met the Netherlands at the Max-Morlock-Stadion in Nuremberg. Emotions were high on both sides as a spot in the quarter-final was at stake.

However, no one could have imagined that the match would produce 16 yellow cards and four red cards. The game was physical from the start as Mark van Bommel and Khalid Boulahrouz were handed yellow cards inside seven minutes. And the match saw its first red card just before half-time ended, as Costinah was sent for a second yellow card. Things got even more physical in the second half as Boulahrouz, Deco and Giovanni van Bronckhorst were sent off. 

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Between all of this, Maniche scored a first-half goal that got Portugal through to the next round. 

David Beckham, 1998 FIFA World Cup 

Diego Simeone has made Atletico Madrid a resilient team who are also a master of the dark arts. And the Argentine was no different in his playing manager as he played in central midfield for his nation at the 1998 World Cup. He played at the base of midfield and acted as a shield for the defence. 

And in the round of 16, they faced England, a team with brilliant players and young talents such as David Beckham, Michael Owen, Alan Shearer, Paul Scholes, and Paul Ince. The match was tough to call as both teams were stacked with world-class attacking talent. Four goals scored in the first half was a testament to that. However, that match had its most controversial moments just two minutes into the second half.

Simeone, the Argentina captain, fouled Beckham, and as he was getting away, the English player flicked his leg at Simone. Although the contact was minimal, the Argentine made most of the situation, and referee Kim Milton Nielsen showed a yellow card to Simeone and a red card to Beckham. 

Argentina would eventually win the match on penalties to break English hearts.

Josip Simunic, 2006 FIFA World Cup

Football is simple. If you get yellow-carded twice, you get sent off. That is the case unless you’re Josip Simunic. At the 2006 World Cup, Australia faced Croatia in a Group F match. It was a must-rim game for Croatia, who were two points behind second-place Australia. And the match lived up to the expectation as Croatia scored in the second minute before Australia levelled. However, By the 60th minute, Croatia were leading. But what would happen in the next 30 minutes would be among the worst refereeing decisions in football, as Josip Simunic would get three yellow cards.

The Croatian defender got his first caution in the 61st minute of the game. Then, in the 89th minute, Simunic received his second yellow card but was not sent off by referee Graham Poll. Four minutes later, he would receive his marching orders after receiving a third yellow card. The referee Graham Poll was the favourite referee for the World Cup Final. However, he was suspended in the middle of the World Cup.

Wayne Rooney, 2006 FIFA World Cup 

The wounds of the 1998 World Cup were still not healed completely when England got another scar eight years later. When the English team landed in Germany for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, they were among the favourites to win their second title. The team was stacked with talent, and Wayne Rooney had the best young player in the world in their ranks. 

And they started their campaign brilliantly, winning two and drawing one to top their group. They defeated Ecuador in the round of 16 to set up a quarter-final clash with Portugal. However, the match was goalless as both teams failed to create clear-cut chances.  

However, the biggest incident came in the 61st minute when Wayne Rooney was shown a red card for a foul on Ricardo Carvalho. During the entire incident, Roonbey’s teammate at Manchester United, Cristiano Ronaldo, pleaded with the referee to give Rooney the red card and was seen winking at the cameras after the sending-off. 

The match went onto penalties which Portugal won after their goalkeeper Ricardo saved three penalties without wearing gloves. 

Luis Suarez, 2010 FIFA World Cup 

The 2010 FIFA World Cup could have been the first tournament where an African team would have reached the semi-final for the first time, but Luis Suarez had other ideas. Uruguay and Ghana were both in top form and had managed to reach the quarter-final. 

Ghana had the chance to script history by becoming the first African team in the history of the World Cup to reach the semi-final. And it appeared likely when they took the lead through Sulley Muntari. However, Uruguay equalised through Diego Forlan as the match went into extra time.

And in the final seconds of extra-time, a shot from Ghana was going on its way to the goal with goalkeeper Fernando Muslera off his line after committing to stop the ball. However, in a moment of desperation, Luis Suarez saved the ball with his hand. 

He was sent off, but Asamoah Gyan missed the resultant penalty kick. As a result, the match went to penalties, and Uruguay triumphed to break Ghanaian hearts. 

Zinedine Zidane, 2006 FIFA World Cup 

Perhaps one of the most controversial moment in FIFA World Cup history was Zinedine Zidane’s red card in the 2006 final. It almost looked as if it was the World Cup of Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman had come out of international retirement and was the creative fulcrum of Les Bleus. 

While France didn’t start the World Cup perfectly, winning one and drawing two matches to finish second in the group. This meant they were drawn to a tough side of the knockout table. France had to defeat Spain, Brazil, and Portugal to reach the final.

And standing in their way were a resolute defensive Italy. The Azzurri were a side with a brilliant backline and an in-form Gianluigi Buffon, which was why they had gotten to the final. 

 The match was tightly contested as Zidane scored a penalty before Marco Materazzi equalised for Italy. However, the most controversial moment came during the extra time. The Frenchman was sent off, and the Italians won their fourth World Cup in a penalty shootout. Later, it came to light that the Italian had made indecent remarks about Zidane’s sister, which prompted the reaction from the Frenchman.

Saumy Deepak Tripathi
A Bayern Munich fan who is deeply in love with football statistics. Has a soft spot for goalkeepers! (well only he knows why). You’ll find him vibing on 70’s classic songs and spends an abnormal amount of time cooking.

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