CIES Football Observatory presents data on cards issued by referees in its latest Weekly Post.
The 31 top division European championships surveyed are ranked according to the average number of cards given per game. The Greek Super League heads the table (5.52), while the Norwegian Eliteserien is at the bottom of the rankings (2.93).
Generally speaking, the number of yellow cards is correlated to that of red cards. The French Ligue 1 is an exception. At international level, French referees issue few yellow cards, but a lot of red ones. At the opposite end of the spectrum, in the English Premier League, the amount of red cards is very low compared to that of yellow cards.
Southern and Eastern European countries are over-represented among those where the referees issue the most cards. On the contrary, in the majority of Northern and Western European countries, the number of cards given is relatively low. These gaps reflect the existence of different cultures both from a player and a referee behaviour perspective.