What is the most red cards a referee has ever issued in one game of European football?

  • Europe Only
  • "Top flight" leagues (e.g. Premier League, Serie A, La Liga BBVA, Eredivisie, German Bundesliga, Turkish League, etc)
  • Official games only, although anything involving an exhibition game is worth mention just because I'm a curious person.
  • 1
    In fact, 36 red cards in one match has been done in South America. 36 seems to be the theoretical maximum as well.
    – user1564
    Aug 23, 2013 at 14:25
  • 5
    Actually, the maximum is higher than 36. A referee can show a red card to players, substitutes, managers, coaches, kit staff, physiotherapists, doctors and anyone else in the "technical area"
    – Ste
    Aug 23, 2013 at 14:54
  • 4
    @Ste Are you sure? According to Wikipedia: "Only players, substitutes and substituted players may receive a red card."
    – user1564
    Aug 24, 2013 at 7:48
  • 5
    Yeah, that's a good point. They can be "dismissed" but the red card is not shown. My bad.
    – Ste
    Aug 25, 2013 at 10:04
  • 4
    there could not be 36 red cards. there is a minimum number of players requried on each team before the match is forfeited. Each team must have 7 players. Example - 3 reds & 2 injuries en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Bramall_Lane Oct 2, 2013 at 14:41

5 Answers 5


Six red cards

Primera División - Spain, Espanyol vs FC Barcelona on 13/12/03 at 19:30, 5 red cards

Red Cards

  1. Minute, Player I. De La Peña ( Espanyol )
  2. Minute, Player A. Lopo ( Espanyol )
  3. Minute, Player R. Quaresma ( FC Barcelona )
  4. Minute, Player R. Marquez ( FC Barcelona )
  5. Minute, Player P. Cocu ( FC Barcelona )

Now, it may just be that in this (same) game, actually 6 red cards were shown, the sixth to Soldevilla. Will check... And..., Here it is.

So, that is somewhat disturbing, but either way it is 5 or 6 red cards. (If anyone can clarify the discrepancy, please do.)

I think the second source looks better. I therefore think it was six red cards.

More sources for 6:

Espanyol vs. Barcelona

Spain » Primera División 2003/2004 » 16. Round » Espanyol Barcelona - FC Barcelona 1:3

Espanyol 1-3 Barcelona | El partido con más expulsiones de la historia

Espanyol 1-3 Barcelona | El partido con más expulsiones de la historia

El 13 de diciembre de 2003 en el Olímpic Lluís Company, por aquel entonces estadio del Espanyol, se citaron el Espanyol y el Barcelona, partido correspondiente a la 16ª Jornada de la Liga Española de la temporada 2003/04. Temporada que ganaría el Valencia por última vez.

Este partido dio lugar al partido con más expulsiones de la historia, con un total de 6 expulsiones, 4 por tarjeta amarilla y 2 por roja directa.


I have checked whether something can be found on Wikipedia, since it is one of natural places to go for questions like this. I am posting this as a CW answer; so that it can be updated by other users, if needed:

Primera Division

In the article Football records in Spain the following is mentioned:

Most red cards in a single match: 6, Espanyol (1) v. Barcelona (3) (13 December 2003) (2 Direct red cards and 4 double yellow cards)

Premier League

Red cards ar not mentioned in the article Premier League records and statistics. The article Football records in England mentions matches with 6 and 5 red cards, but not from Premier League.

I did not find any mention of game with most red cards in the Wikipedia articles Bundesliga records, Football records in Italy, Ligue 1 records.


F.C. Hansa Rostock vs. SSV Ulm, Sept 10 1999 (2-1)
6 people were sent off in this game: 4 players (2 Red Cards, 2 Second Yellows) and Coach + Club Manager, all of them from Ulm.
(video source and German article from 2013 still mentioning this as record)


Actually, it is 36.

See the following links:


I remember a glorious Istanbul derby (GS-FB) in 2008-2009 season that ended 0-0 but with 4 reds and 4 yellows, but I cannot go as far to claim that it's the most red cards shown in the league history. It's perhaps worth mentioning that just the year before that the same teams tallied 4 reds and 11 yellows in a cup game.

According to The Guardian, the most red cards in English Leagues is 5, that occurred twice the same year both in the second division, if I understand it right.

Adding more information here; according to a football stats blog more than 1 red per game is actually very rare (1% or less) in the top leagues. Here's an interesting excerpt, with a title contender 4-red game reference:

The graph also shows that receiving no red or a single red card accounts for 98-99% of all red card occurrences of for teams across the leagues, making matches with more than 1 red car exceedingly rare events. So you may immediately wonder which team would have that unfortunate honor of seeing red four times in a match - it's Osasuna in the 2006/07 season in a match against Atetico Madrid; and by the way, in the 2008/09 season, they managed to get three red cards in another match).

  • Instanbul derbies are scary, I'd never want to be there. Thanks for the mention, as of now I'll take you as the probable answer for top flight, most red cards in a match.
    – Nick
    Aug 26, 2013 at 13:28
  • nice! Well, those stats are from 05-10', so it's a good bet to say that was the highest total for that span of time in the four elite leagues.
    – Nick
    Aug 26, 2013 at 15:24

Referee Damian Rubino showed 36 red cards during a match in Argentina between rivals Claypole and Victoriano Arenas - setting the new world record for the Most red cards isued in a single game.
Rubino sent off all 22 players as well as all substitutes and technical staff as a mass brawl erupted during the game.


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