It is very rare that football matches get abandoned because of too many sendings off, though this is possible and it has happened before. The latest time this occurred was in Argentina recently, during the Champions Trophy Final, between Boca Juniors and Racing Club.
Argentina is known for its highly charged passion for football that has taken a turn for the worse on numerous occasions. This was certainly the case here, when the game was abandoned on the 117th minute after a Racing Club player scored the winner and celebrated in front of the Boca Junior fans sparking a riot on the pitch.
Referee Facundo Tello then proceeded to send off six Boca Junior players, including an unused substitute, followed by an unused substitute for the Racing Club side. Tello, who will officiate at the Qatar World Cup had already awarded red cards to four other players during the game. Rules state that football matches cannot continue if a team has less than seven players on the pitch.
What is interesting is that the dismissals did not begin until the 95th minute (five minutes into extra time), when he sent off one player from each side, before a Boca Juniors player was then awarded a second yellow card, five minutes later. Below we look at a couple of other examples where this has happened before.
Battle of Brammall Lane
Perhaps one of the most memorable and the only game in English football history to have been abandoned because of a shortage of players, this clash between Sheffield United and West Bromwich Albion was fraught with bookings, dismissals and a highly charged atmosphere.
Despite the match not being a close rivalry or football rivalry, there was still tension going into this based on some previous history. This was between United midfielder George Santos and Albion player Andy Johnson in the last meeting when the former suffered an injury.
As a result, the next meeting between the sides in South Yorkshire had drama within the first 10 minutes when Blades goalkeeper Simon Tracy was sent off for deliberately handling the ball outside of the penalty area. Albion scored just before half time, then doubled their lead halfway through the second half. United manager Neil Warnock subsequently made two changes, bringing on Santos and Patrick Suffo; however, within minutes of entering the pitch, both received straight red cards.
Playing with eight men, the home side then conceded again before Michael Brown and Robert Ullathorne got injured, meaning that the game had to be suspended in the 82nd minute due to Warnock having made all of his substitutions. Albion were consequently awarded a 3-0 win
Staying in South America, in 2018, the match between Bahia and Vitoria had to be postponed after the referee handed out 10 red cards following a rather crude goal celebration.
There had already been six yellow cards awarded when Bahia were given a penalty just after the restart, from which they scored, with the scorer demonstrating a sexual act in front of the Vitoria fans.
It sparked a mass brawl between the two teams, with both players and substitutes getting involved and when order was restored 16 minutes later, the referee then sent off eight players causing the match to be abandoned.
In September 2022, an ill-disciplined France U18s side, taking on their Polish counterparts, saw their game abandoned after they had four players sent off, 13 minutes from time, when the final France player received a straight red card for a brutal headbutt.
At the time, Poland were leading 3-2 in what had been a highly tempestuous affair between the two sides. France coach and former Liverpool winger Bernard Diomede (a World Cup winner for France in 1998) said after the match: “For some, there may not be a return to the France team because they have to understand things. I will punish players who have behaved badly.”
France needed victory to win the Lafarge Foot Avenir Tournament and, at one point, were leading 2-1 until Poland equalised in the 27th minute, after which it all went downhill. When Poland took the lead, France were down to nine men.
Uruguay vs Ecuador – 1977
Staying with international football, though travelling back to 1977, the game between Uruguay and Ecuador, with the score at 1-1, had to be postponed following six red cards having been issued to Ecuadorian players.
Carlos Delgado, Jefferson Camacho, Fausto Carrera, Juan Carlos Gómez, José Villafuerte and Luis Granda all received red cards. Everything appeared to be plain sailing for the away side, who took the lead in the 25th minute, though a number of serious footballing offences led to the game being postponed.
This is still regarded as one of the most violent games of the last few decades, with much ill-discipline throughout the duration of the game.
Not So Friendly International: Portugal v Angola
In 2001, Portugal hosted one of their former colonies, Angola, in what was understood to be a friendly exhibition game. Despite conceding in the first minute, Portugal then fired five past the African nation; however, there were a number of disciplinary incidents throughout.
Angola already had four players sent off by the 67th minute, when Helver Vicente went down injured with no more substitutes being allowed. The first card handed out was a yellow to Angola’s Yamba Asha on the 12th minute for a heavy clash on Portugal striker Pauleta.
Asha then received a second yellow just four minutes later, after a number of horrific tackles as the game began to spiral out of control.
With Portugal easing into the game, they were looking comfortable at 2-1 and were easily able to press their advantage as Angola received more red cards.
If A Match Is Abandoned What Happens To Your Bet?
If a football match that you have a bet on is called off, which actually could be for many reasons, such as bad weather, crowd trouble, injuries or dismissals, it depends on a couple of factors.
Each bookmaker will vary the times when it settles bets in a game. For example, if you had made a bet on a first goalscorer in a match, such as Mohammed Salah, however, the game then goes on to be abandoned, this bet would have already been ‘settled’ so you would still win the money.
If you make a single bet (Liverpool to win) for a game that is then postponed, it means that the bet would not have been settled, so it would be void and you would receive your stake back. In both cases, this is regardless of whether you place the wager online or at the bookmakers.