World Football: 10 Infamous Red Cards

Will TideySenior Manager, GlobalDecember 9, 2011

World Football: 10 Infamous Red Cards

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    Wayne Rooney's initial three-game ban was cut to two yesterday, as UEFA suspended part of his punishment for a red card he picked up for England against Montenegro in Euro 2012 qualifying.

    Rooney's sending off garnered column inches all over the world. The hot-tempered Manchester United striker needlessly kicked out at an opponent, and as a result will miss England's opening two group games at the Euro 2012 finals next summer.

    It was a big deal alright, but Rooney's red pales in comparison with 10 on this list.

    Here are the 10 most infamous red cards in football history.

1. David Beckham (World Cup 1998)

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    David Beckham's star was ascending. The floppy-haired midfielder had captured a nation's heart with a brilliant free-kick against Colombia and earned himself a starting spot in the second-round meeting with Argentina.

    It all started so well. Beckham set up Michael Owen for England's opener and we dreamed of a famous victory. Then Argentina equalized. Then Beckham kicked out at Diego Simeone.

    England were reduced to 10 men and when they lost on penalties a nation blamed Beckham. "Ten brave lions, one stupid boy," came the famous tabloid headline that followed.

2. Zinedine Zidane (World Cup 2006)

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    Arguably the most famous sending off of them all. Zinedine Zidane, the maverick French genius who'd led his team to glory at the 1998 World Cup, was in with a chance of repeating the feat in 2006.

    Zizou scored from the penalty spot to put France ahead, but Italy equalized to take the game to extra time. It was during the additional period that Zidane reacted to provocation from Marco Materazzi with a crude headbutt to the chest.

    The fourth official reported the incident to the referee and Zidane received his marching orders. All too predictably, Italy won the penalty shootout that followed.

3. Laurent Blanc (World Cup 1998)

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    Perhaps the cruelest red card in history. Hosts France were en route to the 1998 World Cup Final, when Laurent Blanc was sent off in the semifinal against Croatia. There's no doubt Blanc's actions were ill-advised, but let's just say Croatia's Slaven Bilic made the most of it.

    It was Blanc's first sending off of his career, and it came with the harshest possible punishment. He was suspended for the final against Brazil.

4. Wayne Rooney (World Cup 2006)

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    Wayne Rooney was never going to miss out on a list like this altogether.

    Here's the England striker being sent off against Portugal at World Cup 2006, in a second-round encounter that ended with a trademark penalty shootout defeat for his team.

    The incident was particularly memorable for the "wink seen around the world" by Rooney's then-Manchester United teammate Cristiano Ronaldo.

5. Voller & Rijkaard (World Cup 1990)

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    There's no love lost between the Netherlands and Germany, who share one of the fiercest rivalries in world football.

    Take this incident at Italia 90, where Rudi Voller and Frank Rijkaard indulged in a famous spat (fitting choice of words) that saw both red-carded.

    Germany won the game 2-1, and went on to lift the famous trophy that year too.

6. Jens Lehmann (2006 Champions League Final)

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    Arsenal and Barcelona came together for the 2006 Champions League final, at the Stade de France in Paris.

    Arsene Wenger's Gunners were in the final for the first time, and got off to the worst possible start when goalkeeper Jens Lehmann was red-carded for bringing down Samuel Eto'o—thus becoming the first player sent off in a European Cup final.

    Being down to 10 men didn't stop Arsenal taking the lead, but goals from Eto'o and Juliano Belletti ultimately saw Barca to victory.

7. Josip Simunic (World Cup 2006)

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    Josip Simunic was the player sent off, but it was referee Graham Poll who stole the headlines for this incident at World Cup 2006.

    Poll made the mistake of issuing Simunic three yellow cards in the Group F encounter between Croatia and Australia—therefore allowing the player to stay on the field when he should have been sent off.

    Simunic was so determined to get a red he went and collected a third yellow.

8. Kaka (World Cup 2010)

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    Kaka is a peace-loving soul. The Brazilian midfielder is not one for full-blooded tackles and rarely gets involved in any nasty business on the field. It's hardly surprising when you consider he belongs to Jesus.

    All of which made his red card against against Ivory Coast particularly shocking. Looking back at the replay, his second booking was particularly harsh too—and owed much to the acting prowess of Seydou Keita.

9. Luis Suarez (World Cup 2010)

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    Ghana fans, look away now. This was the moment your team came within Luis Suarez's hand of a place in the World Cup semifinals.

    With the score at 1-1, Ghana were deep in Uruguay territory in the final minute of extra-time and trying to win it. Dominic Adiyiah jumped to head goalwards and for a moment it looked as though he'd achieved the most dramatic of victories for the African nation.

    But Suarez was on the goal line, and the striker stuck out a hand to deny him. Suarez was sent off, but Asamoah Gyan missed the resulting penalty and Uruguay went through in the shootout that followed.

    Suarez later talked about his "hand of God."

10. John Heitinga (World Cup 2010)

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    The Netherlands picked up an impressive nine yellow cards in their 2010 World Cup Final loss to Spain—and two of them earned John Heitinga his marching orders in extra time.

    Heitinga left the field in the 109th minute, and seven minutes later Spain struck the decisive goal through Andres Iniesta to win it.