At times in the heat of the moment, football players go in for wild tackles earning themselves a booking from the referee. Some players though, seemingly completely lose it and do the stupidest things to earn themselves a RED CARD and instant dismissal from the pitch leaving their team short of a player. Here I have collected a series of the craziest incidents in football where players totally lose the plot for a moment earning themselves a place in my list of Football’s Softest Sending Offs.
Fernando Torres – 28/10/1012
In one the most hotly contested contests in the Premier League, Chelsea were already down to 10 men (Ivanovic got sent off) when Torres was shown his second yellow card for appearing to dive following a challenge from United’s Jonny Evans. Could Torres have continued to play after the seemingly weak challenge? Or had he already lost control of the ball and decided to fake a dive? Whatever the real reason it was pretty lame and Chelsea had to continue with only 9 players.
Spanish player Andres Iniesta seemed to take a dive after the slightest contact from Holland’s Heitinga in the 2010 World Cup Final. To make matters worse, the Dutchman had his hands raised when Iniesta ‘fell’ to indicate he wasn’t making a challenge. Still, referee Howard Webb saw something that earned Heitinga an early exit from the pitch.
Joey Barton – 2/10/2005
One of Premier League’s most controversial player (some would say dirtiest) received the first red card of his career in the daftest of ways. With his team down 3-0 and the half time whistle about to blow, the referee again cautions Barton. Instead of keeping his mouth shut and walking to the dressing rooms, he decides to give the referee another piece of his mind leaving the referee no option but to book him for his verbal abuse.
Paul Scholes – 29//0/08
This has got to be right up there! Instead of using his head on the end of a superb cross (or any other part of his body), Scholes chose to use his hand to slap the ball into the back of the net! For this brainless act, he earned himself a second yellow card and a ban resulting in him missing the Champions League opening game.
Lee Cattermole – 04/03/2012
Another of football’s controversial figures, the mid-fielder added to his red card tally in ridiculous style! Already booked for a dreadful tackle in the first minute of the match, the Sunderland captain gave the ref an earful with abusive foul language and earned himself a red card – only this was after the whistle had been blown for full time!
Brian Stock – 05/01/2013
Although only yellow carded for this offense, a second booking in the game resulted in a red card for the Burnley player. The thing was the first yellow shouldn’t have been given. Stock was pushed in the back and hit on the back of the head then mistakenly booked for a foul - part of the risk in football; a work accident compensation claim in other employment!
Arjen Robben – 15/01/2006
Here’s a classic example of ‘From Hero to Zero’ After scoring a sweet goal that put his Chelsea team in front 2-1, Robben was so thrilled he ran off the pitch to share his jubilation with the fans. The referee promptly showed him a yellow card for excessive celebration, his second of the match, earning him an early shower.
Finally, the list wouldn’t be complete without this controversial incident. In the World Cup Final 1996, the Frenchman was given his marching orders by the ref. After lots of shirt tugging by Italian player Materazzi, something he said made Zidane suddenly flip out and head-butt the Italian in the chest knocking him to the ground. It was an unfortunate exit for one of the world’s greatest players.