Most Controversial World Cup Red Cards

The World Cup wouldn’t be the World Cup without some controversial red cards and we’ve got some crackers to look back on here.

Get ready for some terrible tackles, diabolical dives and even one red card which took three yellows to come.

David Beckham, 1998 England v Argentina

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A true classic, England v Argentina finished 2-2 before Argentina won 4-3 on penalties, Paul Ince and David Batty the spot-kick sinners this time around. It was a game of penalties, both sides scoring one apiece before Michael Owen’s famous solo goal put the Three Lions in the driving seat.

However, for many, the game will best be remembered for Beckham’s sending off, current Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone hurling himself to the floor after the then-Man United player had immaturely flicked out a boot.

Kim Nielsen brandished the red and whilst Simeone may well have bought it, the English fans and media gave Beckham a torrid time in the aftermath.

Graham Poll, 2006, Croatia v Australia

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Sticking with English red cards, let us turn to Croatia’s Josip Simunic, who was dismissed in 2006 against Australia. Why an English red card? Well, Graham Poll was the (English) referee who, despite being a fine official, somehow managed to give the Croatian three yellow cards!

Having been booked in the 61st minute for a foul on Harry Kewell, Simunic received a second yellow – but no red – in the 90th minute. Simunic was clearly in the mood for a red though as he decided to push Poll after the final whistle had blown, earning the infamous third yellow and, finally, a red.

Luis Suarez, 2010, Uruguay v Ghana

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At the 2010 World Cup, before his reputation as a total and utter wrong’un was fully established, Uruguayan Suarez was dismissed for a late handball on the line against Ghana at the quarter-final stage. Had the goal been scored Ghana would have become the first ever African side to make the semis and done so in their home continent.

Whilst Suarez’s clearance was instinctive, the referee correctly sent him off but what really earned the Liverpool player notoriety was his celebration when Asamoah Gyan missed the resultant last-minute penalty and his subsequent claims that he would do the same again.

Benjamin Massing, 1990, Argentina v Cameroon

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A cracking bit of footage exists of this red card, where two Cameroonians try and fail to take Argentine forward Claudio Caniggia down before a third, Massing, gives him a cracking wallop that sends Caniggia rolling.

And rolling. And rolling. As only Argies can: he may still be going for all we know.

Zinedine Zidane, 2006, France v Italy

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Zidane became the first player ever to be sent off in a World Cup final when he launched a ferocious headbutt, somewhat bizarrely, into the chest of Italian defender Marco Materazzi. The incident occurred in extra time and there are various reports on why Zidane lost the plot, the incident happening seemingly out of the blue.

Materazzi claimed it was “the kind of insult you will hear dozens of times and just slips out of the ground.” But many argue that the defender may have insulted Zidane’s mother and/or called him a terrorist due to his Algerian roots. Either way, it was a controversial end to a glittering international career.

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