The Greek league is the championship of the bad boys while we could say that the angels are residing in Norway. The Italian league was listed among the worst championships for red cards collected.

CIES, the statistical observatory of football, has looked at European football from the referee’s point of view counting the assigned red cards in the 31 Top division leagues of each country affiliated with UEFA. The overall result is very interesting. 5.52 cards per match are waved in Greece, 5.51 in Romania and 5.41 in Ukraine. Also, the Italian Serie A is included in the list of the leagues where bad boys play. 5.04 cards are shown per game. Italy sits in the ninth position in the overall standings with 4.77 yellow cards and 0.27 red cards per match.

On the other side of this special ranking there’s the Norwegian League. The footballers playing in this championship collect less than 3 cards per match. The Norwegian Tippeligaen is followed by the greatest Swedish championships (3.31 cards per game) and the Finnish League (3.36).

By filtering this interesting research performed by CIES and analyzing the Big-5 European Leagues, we can say that the most “polite” footballers are playing in the French League 1 (3.89 fouls per game, 3.60 yellow cards, and 0.29 red cards). Even in the British Premier League, less than 4 cards per game are waved (3,88 yellow, 0,11 red, 3,99 in total). Surprisingly, the Premier League performed better than the German Bundesliga (4.17 cards in total).


The two most unruly big leagues are the Spanish La Liga and the Italian Serie A. However, it would be interesting to figure out if the number of cards shown reflects the degree of unruliness of the players on the pitch or the moral rigor of the referees.