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World Cup Disciplinary History

We have already established that the U.S. is the only team in Confederations Cup history to receive three straight red cards and only the second team to receive more than one straight red card.  But what about the World Cup:  more teams, more matches, and a longer history should help resolve whether the U.S. team is the most harshly penalized team in major international tournament history.  Read on to find out . . .

So, let’s get right down to it.  We’ll use the same format as our Confederations Cup post:  identifying the top two teams at each World Cup based on Fouls Committed, Yellow Cards, Straight Reds, and Yellow Accumulation Reds.  As before, if one or two teams lead Straight Red Cards but did not lead Yellow Cards, we will note how many yellow cards they received.

All statistics are from FIFA.com

Germany 2006

  • Most Fouls Committed:  Germany & France (Tied at 125)
  • Most Yellow Cards:  Portugal (20); Ghana & France (Tied at 16)
  • Most Straight Reds:  Italy (2) [11 yellows]; 7 teams tied at 1 (U.S., France, Argentina, Ukraine, Czech Republic, England, Serbia and Montenegro).
  • Most Yellow Accumulation Reds:  Portugal, the Netherlands, Croatia (all tied at 2)

Korea/Japan 2002

  • Most Fouls Committed:  Germany and Korea Republic (tied at 133)
  • Most Yellow Cards:  Turkey (17), Germany (16)
  • Most Straight Red Cards:  11 teams tied at 1 (Croatia, France, China PR, Portugal, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Slovenia, Senegal, Turkey)
  • Most Yellow Accumulation Reds:  6 teams tied at 1 (Germany, Italy, Cameroon, Turkey, Paraguay, Portugal)

France 1998

  • Starting with France 1998, FIFA does not provide the number of fouls committed in its tournament summary statistics.  From this point on, we will omit this line.
  • Most Yellow Cards:  Croatia (19), Chile (13)
  • Most Straight Red Cards:  Cameroon (3) [6 yellows, 3 matches]; Mexico [10Y], France [11Y], and Denmark [12Y] were tied with 2.
  • Most Yellow Accumulation Cards:  4 teams tied at 1 (Bulgaria, Jamaica, France, the Netherlands)

USA 1994

  • Most Yellow Cards:  Bulgaria (19); Germany and Spain (tied at 13)
  • Most Straight Red Cards:  Italy (2) [11 yellow]; 6 teams tied at 1 (Cameroon, Bolivia, Brazil, Romania, Sweden, Spain)
  • Most Yellow Accumulation Reds:  Bulgaria (2); 5 teams tied at 1 (US, Mexico, Russia, Sweden, Bolivia)

Italy 1990

  • Most Yellow Cards:  Argentina (21); Cameroon (14)
  • Most Red Cards:  Argentina (3) [2 straight reds; 7 matches]; Cameroon (2)  (Beginning with Italy 1990, FIFA does not differentiate between straight reds and yellow accumulation reds.  So we are left to provide only Most Yellow and Most Red card statistics.  When we have more time, we will review the match reports to identify straight reds and yellow accumulation reds.)

Mexico 1986

  • Most Yellow Cards:  Argentina (12), Uruguay (11)
  • Most Red Cards:  Uruguay (2); 6 teams tied at 1 (Canada, Denmark, Iraq, England, Germany FR, Mexico)

Spain 1982

  • Most Yellow Cards:  Italy (11), Poland (10)
  • Most Red Cards:  Argentina (2) [7 yellow; both straight reds], 3 teams tied at 1 (Honduras, Czechoslovakia, Republic of Ireland)

Argentina 1978

  • Most Yellow Cards:  Brazil (9); the Netherlands and Peru (tied at 7)
  • Most Red Cards:  Hungary (2) [4 yellow]; the Netherlands (1)

Germany 1974

  • Most Yellow Cards:  4 teams tied at 10 (Brazil, German DR, Yugoslavia, the Netherlands)
  • Most Red Cards:  5 teams tied at 1 (Zaire, Australia, Uruguay, Chile, Brazil)

Mexico 1970 – The Introduction of the Yellow/Red Card System

  • Most Yellow Cards:  Uruguay (6); Soviet Union (5)
  • No red cards recorded during this tournament

England 1966

  • Most Warnings:  Four teams tied at 3 (Germany FR, Bulgaria, Soviet Union, Argentina)
  • Most Expulsions:  Uruguay [1Y] and Argentina (tied at 2); Soviet Union (1)

Chile 1962

  • Beginning with Chile 1962, FIFA.com does not provide the number of warnings issued in its tournament team statistics.
  • Most Expulsions:  Italy (2); Four teams tied at 1 (Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Yugoslavia)

Sweden 1958

  • Most Expulsions:  Three tied at 1 (Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Germany FR)

Switzerland 1954

  • Most Expulsions:  Brazil (2); Hungary (1)

Brazil 1950

  • No expulsions recorded by FIFA

France 1938

  • Most Expulsions:  Brazil (2); Germany (1); Czechoslovakia (1)

Italy 1934

  • Most Expulsions:  Hungary (1)

Uruguay 1930

  • Most Expulsions:  Peru (1)


The United States is not the most harshly penalized team ever.  That title arguably goes to Cameroon 1993 (3 Red Cards; 6 Yellow Cards; 3 matches).  An arguable competitor is Uruguay 1966 (2 Expulsions, 1 Warning).  Argentina 1990 was carded frequently, but the ratio of Yellow Cards to Red Cards (21:3) is far less than many other teams and they played seven matches.


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