File photo: Steve Haag


London - Australia are the “dirtiest” nation in World Cup history when measured by the number of red cards at finals compared to the number of games played.

Taking into account only those countries who have played in at least three finals, the Aussies come out on top having received four reds in 10 matches — a “red rate” of 40 percent.

Next in the bad boys’ list are Cameroon, with seven reds in 20 matches, at a rate of 35 percent, followed by Croatia (three in 13, 23 percent) Algeria and South Africa (two in nine, 22 percent) and Portugal (five in 23, 22 percent).

All those nations except South Africa will be in Brazil. The countries with the most red cards at World Cup finals are Brazil (11), Argentina (10) and Uruguay (8) but they have played many games in finals — 97, 70 and 47 respectively.

The “cleanest” country —all major nations have shared 159 reds since 1930 — are Spain, with only one red card in 56 World Cup finals matches. The offender was Miguel Angel Nadal (Rafa Nadal’s uncle) in 1994. That’s a “red rate” of two percent.

England’s rate is five per cent, with three red cards in 59 World Cup finals matches shown to Ray Wilkins (1986), David Beckham (1998) and Wayne Rooney (2006).

Among those playing in fewer than three World Cups, the Czech Republic and Serbia & Montenegro have the highest red rates, each with two reds in three games.

Mail On Sunday