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World Cup red cards 2022: Qatar tournament could equal per match record low for send offs

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While the 2022 FIFA World Cup hasn’t been short on drama, it has been strangely short on red cards as we get down to the business end of proceedings. 

With VAR watching on, players have seemingly been on their best behaviour with far fewer incidents worthy of a send off. 

Red cards at tournaments in the past usually came quite frequently as teams stepped over the line in their quest to lift the title. 

The 2022 World Cup has so far been played in a slightly different spirit and could match a record low for red cards per game in the modern era. 

MORE: Which players are suspended for World Cup semifinals?

How many red cards at World Cup 2022? 

Going into the semifinals, there have been just four red cards shown to players in Qatar. 

Remarkably, only one of these was a direct red card, to Wales’ Wayne Hennessey, with the other three the result of players picking up two yellows in one match. 

All four send offs have also come right at the end of games too meaning no team has been required to play a long period with one less player. 

Date Player Country Opponent Minute
Nov. 25 Wayne Hennessey Wales Iran 86′
Dec. 2 Vincent Aboubakar Cameroon Brazil 90+3′
Dec. 9 Denzel Dumfries Netherlands Argentina After penalty
Dec. 10 Walid Cheddira Morocco Portugal 90+3′

Fewest and most red cards at a World Cup all-time

While early editions of the World Cup often just saw one red card shown, these tournaments also had far fewer matches and teams. 

In terms of fewest red cards per match at a World Cup in the modern era, the 2022 edition could equal the 2018 record of 0.059 per game should no more players be sent off. 

At the other end of the spectrum, the 2006 World Cup in Germany saw a record high 28 red cards shown and will take some beating in the future. 

Year Red cards Games Reds 
per game
1930 1 18 0.055
1934 1 17 0.056
1938 4 18 0.182
1950 1 22 0.043
1954 3 26 0.103
1958 3 35 0.079
1962 6 32 0.158
1966 5 32 0.135
1970 5 32 0.135
1974 5 38 0.116
1978 3 38 0.073
1982 5 52 0.088
1986 8 52 0.133
1990 16 52 0.235
1994 15 52 0.224
1998 22 64 0.256
2002 17 64 0.210
2006 28 64 0.304
2010 17 64 0.210
2014 10 64 0.135
2018 4 64 0.059
2022* 4 60 0.063

*Four games still to be played

Why have there been so few red cards in World Cup 2022? 

After a tournament-high 28 red cards were shown at the 2006 World Cup, the number of send offs have rapidly reduced. 

The introduction of VAR has seemingly helped in this respect with both tournaments to date with the technology seeing far fewer red cards. 

At the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, players know that any discretion can be replayed numerous times and magnified, so they have likely been extra careful when it comes to challenges and any off-the-ball tussling. 

Despite this caution, there has been no shortage of yellow cards shown with a World Cup record 18 handed out in the quarterfinal game between Argentina and the Netherlands.  


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