The fastest red card in soccer history: off the field in 2 seconds

Referee showing a red card

Most goals in a season, youngest player to score a goal, most hat-tricks, or fastest goals are typical talked about football records. But how about the quickest red card? In association football (known as soccer in the United States) red card means that the player is sent off the field for a serious misconduct, or after second yellow card (yellow card signifies minor misconduct).

Game referee shows the red card, and sends the player off immediately after following misconducts (quoted from Law 12 of official Laws of the Game):

Referee showing a red card
Referee showing a red card during European U-21 Championship Qualifying Round (Photo by Tadeáš Bednarz / CC-BY-SA-40)
  • Serious foul play
  • Violent conduct
  • Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity with a handball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his/her own penalty area)
  • Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity with a deliberate foul
  • Using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
  • Receiving a second caution in the same match

The quickest red card in football

Sunday leagues in the United Kingdom may not be as fancy as Premier League. They are mostly amateur, but are recognized by the FA (The Football Association), and take part in nationwide knock-out competition, the FA Sunday Cup.

On the Sunday of October 8, 2000, local team Cross Farm Park Celtic was playing against Taunton East Reach Rovers in third division of Sunday League of English county of Somerset. Cross Farm Park’s part time star striker, part time bricklayer Lee Todd was waiting for the first whistle near the center spot with his back to the referee, Peter Kearle, who did not notice how close the player was to him. When the referee blew his whistle, startled Todd exclaimed “Fuck me, that was loud”. Referee wouldn’t have any abusive language in the field, and immediately showed a red card, sending the dumbfounded 22-year-old striker off the field. Witnesses claim the whole incident took only 2 seconds.

Referee showing a red card
Football referee showing a red card (Photo by Markus Dallarosa / CC-BY-SA-30)

Red card reaction

Along with his red card, Lee Todd received a 27 pound fine (this would be about 46 GBP in 2020 pounds, after inflation adjustment, or 57 USD), and a 35-day ban. The goalscorer later explained: “Anyone else would have done the same – he nearly blew my ear off, I was gobsmacked. I wasn’t swearing at the ref or anyone else. I’m surpised he even heard me. I was just muttering to myself. Football is a man’s game and players swear all the time. I was off the pitch before the match even began.”, and declared his plans to appeal his fine and ban, although the records are quiet on whether his appeal was accepted.

Despite losing their star goalscorer, who scored 7 goals in previous two games, Lee Todd’s team Cross Farm Park Celtic easily won 11-2 against Taunton East Reach Rovers.

More football records:
No team has ever won FIFA World Cup with a foreign-born coach
Norway national football team is the only team that never lost against Brazil

Top photo: Football referee showing a red card (Photo by Steindy / Wikimedia / CC-BY-SA)

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