By 90Min
June 17, 2018

The 2006 iteration of the World Cup is well remembered as one of the most ill-disciplined tournaments in history. A record 345 yellow cards and 28 red cards were handed out throughout the tournament, averaging 0.44 red cards and a staggering 5.39 yellow cards per match.

The first red card of the tournament was branded on only the second day of the tournament, as Avery John of Trinidad and Tobago was shown two yellow cards and was subsequently dismissed as his side played out a goalless draw against Sweden.

This trend continued throughout the tournament, with Italy's clash with USA on 17th June no exception.


Group E of the tournament saw the two nations drawn alongside Czech Republic and World Cup newcomers Ghana. Italy were comfortable favourites to finish top of the group, whereas second place appeared very much up for grabs. 

After falling 3-0 to Czech Republic, USA knew they needed a result against Italy to stand any chance of advancing to the knockout stages. However, it appears as though emotions were running a little too high for both sides.

Italian striker Alberto Gilardino gave his side the lead after heading home an Andrea Pirlo free kick in the 22nd minute. but a Cristian Zaccardo own goal had USA level only five minutes later. This proved to be the only goal the Italians would concede in their three group stage matches.


Straight after the equaliser, Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi was shown a straight red card for a vicious elbow on Fulham striker Brian McBride. McBride was left requiring three stitches after he was covered in blood after the challenge.

After Ghana had shocked Czech Republic 2-0 earlier in the day, the group was wide open. Victory for USA would have taken them to three points alongside the two teams, meaning De Rossi's dismissal was the perfect opportunity for the Americans.

Italy were forced to introduce the defensive minded Gennaro Gattuso of AC Milan in place of Francesco Totti, but USA almost managed to capitalise on the situation.


American Pablo Mastroeni saw a 35-yard effort come agonisingly close, and was clearly incredibly determined to make a difference in this game. Unfortunately for Mastroeni, the only difference he made was negatively.

A matter of minutes after his shot, Mastroeni flew into a challenge with Pirlo. With two feet in the air, Mastroeni's reckless lunge was unsurprisingly punished by a red card, meaning both teams would begin the second half with 10 men.

However, USA would not end the match with 10 men. Centre back Eddie Pope was shown his second yellow card only two minutes after the restart, completely altering the outlook of the match. 

The Americans knew they would struggle, and emotions were high after defender Carlos Bocanegra headed against his own crossbar. They even had a goal ruled out for offside, and goalkeeper Kasey Keller produced a handful of incredible saves to earn his side a spirited 1-1 draw.

Pope's red card meant that this became the fourth occasion in World Cup history in which three red cards where shown. Surprisingly, this was not the most ill-disciplined match of the tournament. 


Portugal met the Netherlands in the knockout stages, and this game saw a breathtaking 16 yellow cards and four red cards brandished. This was a record for number of red cards in a game, and also tied the record for most yellow cards issued. 

Josip Šimunić was also incredibly shown three yellow cards during a separate match by English referee Graham Poll, who had seemingly forgotten that he had previously cautioned the Croatian. This disciplinary record became a perfect example of the poor level of discipline showcased by the players throughout the tournament.

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