At the onset of the 2020/21 season, the French derby involving PSG and Olympique Marseille evolved into a genuine battlefield. The encounter, which ended in a 1-0 victory for the visiting team, concluded with a staggering total of 12 yellow and 5 red cards. Even the prominent Parisian star Neymar did not escape the turmoil, receiving a yellow card during the first half and subsequently being expelled with a direct red card during the chaotic final moments.
This prompts us to ponder: What qualifies as the most intense match in the world? Which match holds the record for the highest number of cards shown? Fortunately, such information is available online, so we’ll recount the story of a match between the youth squads of Paraguay’s Tenientes Farina and Libertad.
This match, played in October 2012, concluded with a remarkable 36 red cards being issued! What led to this match spiraling completely out of control?
Five minutes before the match’s conclusion, two players from each team collided on the field, leading referee Nelson Guilen to send them off with direct red cards. However, instead of leaving the field, these players continued to exchange blows, igniting a massive brawl that involved all players from both teams, including substitutes and coaches.
Punches, knee strikes, karate moves, and even headbutts were exchanged. It took some time before the enraged crowd could be subdued and directed back to the locker rooms. Ultimately, the referee team’s decision was to penalize every single player from both teams, regardless of whether they had been on the field or not, with a red card.
All twenty-two players on the field faced sanctions, as did their substitutes. Following the conclusion of the match, the president of the Tenientes team delivered an angry interview in which he could not conceal his anger:
“The referees didn’t remain on the field at all. As soon as the brawl erupted, they fled and sought refuge in their locker room. They were completely unaware of what transpired. However, in their report, they washed their hands of the situation by punishing all 36 players.”
The president of the visiting Libertad team supported his counterpart, accusing the referees of incompetence:
“The referee should have taken better control of the situation with the players. He should have ensured that the two ejected players left the field immediately and separately from each other. Instead, he directed them together towards the locker rooms, reigniting the brawl.”
Ultimately, the referee’s decision received backing from the authorities, and in the subsequent matches, both Tenientes and Libertad encountered significant challenges in assembling teams to continue competing in the youth league of Paraguay’s capital, Asunción.