In World Cup matches, the level of physicality tends to escalate when top teams face off against each other, but in the 2006 World Cup Round of 16 match in Germany, it escalated to an unprecedented level. What probably made this even more surprising was that it was Portugal and the Netherlands who were involved, not exactly the two sides are known for being very aggressive. But from the start of the game, Russian referee Valentin Ivanov had no control, as he was forced to hand out a record four Red Cards and an unprecedented 16 yellow cards, both of which are records in any FIFA tournament.
The Netherlands entered the match as a strong favorite, having won all three of their group-stage games. Portugal, on the other hand, had only managed to secure second place in their group after a draw against Mexico and a loss against Iran.
It all started when Marco Van Basten got himself booked in the 2nd minute, and all hell broke loose afterward, as Portugal’s legendary winger Luis Figo only got a yellow card for a headbutt, which is an automatic red card under FIFA rules. Portugal wound up winning the match 1-0.
Luiz Felipe Scolari was later quoted approving Figo’s headbutt, saying, “Jesus Christ may be able to turn the other cheek but Luís Figo isn’t Jesus Christ!”
FIFA President Sepp Blatter also said, “Russian referee Valentin Ivanov should have given himself a yellow card for his poor performance during the match!”
The Netherlands vs Portugal match was a classic encounter between two talented teams and is remembered by soccer fans all over the world for its thrilling moments and tense atmosphere. The match was a testament to the competitiveness and excitement of the World Cup and will be remembered for years to come.