Seeing Red

The group stages of the World Cup produced eleven red cards, some justified, some not, and Neil Sherwin looks at each one to determine whether the official got it right or wrong.

Nicolas Lodeiro – Uruguay v France

Youngster Lodeiro has been hailed as the future of Uruguayan football, but for all his supposed talent he displayed some of the petulence that often comes with the mantel in his side’s opening game. Only on the field for a matter of minutes, he picked up two yellow cards in quick succession. The second in particular was deserved for a nasty lunge on Bacary Sagna.

Verdict: Correct decision – red card

Tim Cahill – Australia v Germany

Australia’s decision to adopt an even more negative than usual system against Germany clearly frustrated Tim Cahill who was very much a restricted individual. Having already been warned about his tackling pre-tournament, Cahill dived in on Bastien Schweinsteiger and received his marching orders. However, Cahill insists that he tried to pull out of the challenge, a claim that would seem to be backed up by tv footage. Even Schweinsteiger came out afterwards and said it wasn’t red card worthy.

Verdict: Incorrect decision – yellow card

Itumeleng Khune – South Africa v Uruguay

Like the Harry Kewell sending off that is mentioned later on, the red card received by Itumeleng Khune was very harsh considering the intent involved. Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, who appeared to be in an offside position, latched onto a ball in behind the South African defence. A heavy touch took him past Khune and he looked to have lost control of the ball. As any good striker nowadays seems to do, Suarez went to ground straight away and the contact with Khune was minimal. Would Suarez have scored if he stayed on his feet? Not with such a heavy touch. Instead however, the hosts were reduced to ten men and Diego Forlan converted the resulting penalty to all but seal three point for the South Americans.

Verdict: Incorrect decision – penalty and yellow card

Miroslav Klose – Germany v Serbia

The phrase “striker’s tackle” is a term used to describe a forward player trying to defend, usually resulting in a foul of some sort. Germany’s Miroslav Klose was guilty of two such tackles against Serbia, but neither were really bookable offences. However the referee in question, Alberto Undiano Mallenco, clearly thought Christmas had come early as he dished out cards for players breathing in his direction.

Verdict: Incorrect decision – one yellow card overall would have been sufficient

Sani Kaita – Nigeria v Greece

The World Cup’s biggest brain fart so far arrived in the game between Nigeria and Greece. With the Nigerians on the ascendency and seemingly cruising, Sani Kaita tangled with Vassilis Torosidis on the touchline. His flailing leg kick failed to connect with the Greek player but the damage was done and there was no choice but to issue him with a red card. Greece went on to score twice against ten men to record a win that had looked highly unlikely when the game was an eleven a side affair. Nigeria failed to qualify for the knockout stages largely due to this result.

Verdict: Correct decision – red card, if only for the sheer stupidity of it

Kaka – Brazil v Côte d’Ivoire

If you ever want a lesson in how to get an opponent sent off then Abdul Kader Keïta is your man to go to. As Kaka stood minding his own business, Keïta ran directly at the Brazilian who did what any man would and put up his arm to brace for impact, only to see Keïta touch off his elbow then clutch his face before rolling around the ground in apparent agony. Brazil boss Dunga was understandably furious at the decision given that it meant that the AC Milan star would be suspended for the last group game against Portugal.

Verdict: Incorrect decision – yellow card for Keita for assimilation

Valon Behrami – Switzerland v Chile

West Ham man Behrami was another victim of a card happy referee when he was shown a straight red for raising an arm to Arturo Vidal in the first half. It was an extremely harsh decision given that Behrami was shielding the ball at the time, but that didn’t stop Vidal’s theatrics as he fell to the ground in a heap.

Verdict: Incorrect decision – no action necessary

Harry Kewell – Australia v Ghana

Australia lost their second player in two games when Harry Kewell was sent for an early bath twenty minutes into his side’s clash with Ghana. A well struck shot was goal bound until Kewell, who was on the goal line, stuck out a shoulder. The ball however hit his arm and he was dismissed for preventing a clear goalscoring opportunity. Ghana were awarded a penalty which they converted and ended up winning the game 1-0. There was much debate over the red card, but by the letter of the law he had to go. The question remains though whether the rules should be so strict when there is clearly no intent involved.

Verdict: Correct decision – red card

Yoann Gourcuff – France v South Africa

At first this red card was a bit of a head scratcher as poor Djibril Cisse trudged towards the sideline. However it was in fact his teammate Yoann Gourcuff who was the offending party on what was a miserable day for France. The reason for the dismissal was an elbow following Gourcuff’s attempt to head the ball just on the edge of the South African penalty area. He did lead with his elbow but again the question of intent comes into play.

Verdict: Incorrect decision – yellow card

Anther Yahia – Algeria v USA

Quite possibly the most ridiculous of them all. With frustrations running high in the Algeria side after the concession of a late goal to the USA, a number of  players surrounded referee Frank De Bleeckere following a contentious decision. Captain Anther Yahia ran over to pull his players away for fear of them getting sent off. However Mr. De Bleeckere looked up, saw three players standing before him and presuming it was Yahia who was the architect of the dissent, fired a second yellow card in his direction.

Verdict: Incorrect decision – no punishment necessary

Marco Estrada – Chile v Spain

Chile midfielder Marco Estrada was already on a yellow card when he was involved in a coming together with Fernando Torres in the run up to Spain’s second goal. As soon as Andres Iniesta turned the ball into the net, trigger happy Mexican referee Marco Rodriguez (yep, it’s him from the Cahill sending off) turned to Estrada and brandished a red card. However replays clearly showed that any contact was purely accidental and Torres made a meal out of the situation. Having said that, Estrada was lucky not to have walked minutes earlier for a second bad challenge in the middle of the park.

Verdict: Incorrect decision – no yellow for the ‘foul’ on Torres.

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The Author

Neil Sherwin

Co-editor of Writes mostly on Premier League and A-League with contributions to other sites including TheFootballSack, InBedWithMaradona and Bloomberg's BSports. Has featured on The Guardian's Football Weekly.

3 thoughts on “Seeing Red

  1. Yoann Gourcuff was a straight red.

    If you don’t see that you don’t understand football.

    Given you’re previous articles and your shambolic contribution to football weekly, that would see true.

  2. Hi Daniel,

    Thank you once again for your kind comments. Two from two I believe that is.

    I look forward to you finally explaining why you think that. After all, criticism can only be constructive when reasons are given.

    P.S. Let me know when James and co. are having you on the show.

    P.P.S. It’s ‘your’ not ‘you’re’.

  3. re the Kewell one. I’m sure the rule hasn’t changed and its if a “deliberate” handball. However referees don’t seem to apply that anymore.

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