A very popular football betting market these days is to bet on the amount of bookings in a game. This has become more mainstream of late too with the rise of the bet builders, which all bookies are now pushing. This will be true for the ongoing European Championships.
This made us think about the average number of yellows and red cards in games at the Euros. As you might expect, there has been a rise in card averages over the years.
Starting in 1988, the tournaments’ card rate has climbed significantly up to 2016 but saw a marked reduction for Euro 2020 (2021).
Bookings Per Game At The Euros
|Tournament||Host||Yellow Cards Per Game||Red Cards Per Game|
|European Championship 1988||West Germany||1.94||0|
|European Championship 1992||Sweden||3.40||0|
|European Championship 1996||England||4.94||0.23|
|European Championship 2000||Belgium and Netherlands||3.94||0.32|
|European Championship 2004||Portugal||5.03||0.19|
|European Championship 2008||Austria and Switzerland||3.90||0.10|
|European Championship 2012||Poland and Ukraine||3.97||0.10|
|European Championship 2016||France||4.02||0.06|
|European Championship 2020||Pan-European||2.96||0.12|
In the 1988 Euros, which were held in what was then West Germany, there were eight teams divided across two groups. That tournament, which produced zero red cards, had a yellow card average of 1.94 per game.
In 1992, there were no red cards were shown over the course of the tournament’s 15 matches which were all held in Sweden. There was an average of 3.40 yellow cards shown per game.
Four years later in England, there were seven red cards were shown over the course of the tournament’s 31 matches, making an average of 0.23 red cards per match. There were also a further 153 yellow cards produced, creating an average of 4.94 yellow cards per match.
By the year 2000, the tourney was held jointly in Belgium and Netherlands. Over the tournament’s 31 matches, there were ten red cards shown in total, making an average of 0.32 red cards per match. For yellow cards, there was actually a drop in average from the previous competition Euro 96. This time, there was a total of 122 yellow cards shown during the 31 games which creates an average of 3.94 yellow cards per match.
When Portugal hosted in 2004 the card average was the highest in the competition’s history. There were six red cards and 156 yellow cards shown making an average of 0.19 and 5.03, respectively.
In Austria and Switzerland for Euro 2008, there were only three red cards produced over the course of the tournament’s 31 matches, which makes an average of 0.097 red cards per match. In what was clearly a much friendlier competition than usual, there were also a mere 121 yellow cards shown making an average of 3.90 yellow cards per match.
The following tournament was held in Poland and Ukraine where there were three red cards shown in the last 31 match tournament before the competition was widened to its current size. In the same tourney there were also 123 yellow cards produced which makes a yellow card per match average of 3.97.
In France 2016, there was a red card average of 0.06 after just three red cards were shown in a tournament that now consists of 51 matches. There were also 205 yellow cards show in that time, which creates a yellow card average of 4.02 per match.
In the most recent tournament, Euro 2020 held in 2021, there was a big reduction in the number of yellow cards handed out. 151 yellow cards were produced vs 205 in 2016, that is 2.96 per game. The number of red cards increased slightly to 0.12 per game. This was thanks in large part to good officiating and a light touch use of VAR.
In all, for the last nine renewals of the UEFA European Championship since 1988, there is an overall yellow card per match average of 3.82.