The crazy football match that saw an incredible 36 red cards shown

One of the most challenging scenarios in football is battling to secure three points, or even just one point, when you are a player down due to one or more red cards.

Teams with 10 players will often tighten up defensively to preserve their score. Alternatively, they may take more risks knowing that there is essentially less to lose.

In last season’s Premier League, there were a total of 48 red cards, as per FotMob, shown to 17 different football teams. Brighton led the table with six, whilst Arsenal had five.

Much has been made of Arsenal’s red card record in recent weeks. They have picked up 14 since Mikel Arteta took charge in December 2019, with three of those shown in their first four matches of 2022.

Thomas Partey was the latest Arsenal player to see red during his side’s 2-0 Carabao Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool.

But if you thought Arsenal’s problems were bad, wait until you see the chaos that unfolded during one particular game in 2011.

The game with 36 red cards

Football fans will know the damage that one red card can cause to their team’s chances. Playing against a team with a player advantage is always a tricky task. Of course, one red card to each team balances out the equation.

But try 36 red cards in a single game. That is what happened during an Argentinian fifth tier match between Claypole and Victoriano Arenas in 2011.

To set the scene, both teams are situated in Buenos Aires, so the game was a local derby. As you would expect, in that case, challenges went flying in from minute one.

The scenes that led to the chaos

YouTube video

Soon after the match had begun, referee Damian Rubino had to rush over to break up a small scuffle that had ensued between two players. He brandished the first of many cards – a yellow card to a Claypole player. He then pulled out a red card for the Victoriano striker.

Claypole then opened the scoring with a superb header at the back post from a free-kick. But it wasn’t long before things kicked off once again.

An altercation between a Victorianos player and one of the coaches sparked another melee. The referee pulled out the red card again, to which the player in question – wearing the number seven for Victorianos – responded with fury. He practically pulled the gate that separated the pitch and the dressing room off its hinges as he walked off.

Claypole made it 2-0 to put themselves in control of the game. But tensions were anything but under control. Another fight then broke out on the centre circle. It involved players, substitutes and coaches from both sides. Fists can visibly be seen flying.

One man in an orange shirt charges over, throws a punch and then is chased back to the dressing room by a mass group of angry players. The group then can be seen congregating around the gate, at which point the plot appears to have been pretty much lost. Then the police turned up.

In an interview, referee Rubino told the BBC that he didn’t show any cards whilst the chaos unfolded due to the high tensions. After the game had concluded, he walked into each locker room and sent everybody off. A total of 36 football players were shown red cards, setting a record that is unlikely to be broken any time soon.

Featured Image Credit: Getty