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5 most ridiculous red cards in football history

Some red cards are controversial - these five were just plain ridiculous


Raheem Sterling was sent off shortly after this celebration - a truly ridiculous red card
Raheem Sterling was sent off shortly after his goal celebration - a truly ridiculous red card

Red cards in football are always going to be controversial business – after all, a team losing a player and going down to ten men can often be enough to swing a match in the favour of the opposition. Look at Liverpool’s loss to Manchester City a few months ago following Sadio Mane’s sending off, for instance, or England’s 1998 World Cup defeat at the hands of Argentina after David Beckham’s dismissal.

Sometimes though, red cards move from the realm of controversial into the plain ridiculous. What the referees were thinking for the following five sending off, lord only knows. Here are five of the most downright ridiculous red cards of all time.

#5. Raheem Sterling vs. Bournemouth, 2017

We begin with a recent incident that saw Manchester City’s flying winger Raheem Sterling sent off in a match against Bournemouth just a couple of months ago. Sterling’s crime? Apparently, he celebrated his goal a little too much for referee Mike Dean’s liking and it didn’t matter to Dean that Sterling’s goal came in the 97th minute, allowing City to win the game 2-1 and secure three valuable points.

Admittedly, Sterling had run quite the distance to celebrate with City’s travelling fans – some 1,200 of them – and the wild celebration did cause some of them to spill down onto the pitch. But really, is that Sterling’s fault? You’d have to argue no. It wasn’t like the England star deliberately incited Bournemouth’s fans – which is a big no-no in football – and nor did he perform any kind of offensive celebration. It was simply a case of a player absolutely overjoyed to have won the match for his team.

Pep Guardiola, City’s manager, also demanded an explanation for the red card after the game as he felt aggrieved too, but unsurprisingly he was offered none. Sterling had already been booked for an earlier foul – somewhat petty too as that came in the 91st minute – which did mean that the celebration technically only earned him a second yellow, but even so – surely Mike Dean could’ve shown some common sense given the game was basically over anyway? Instead, he came off as a petty killjoy.

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