Euro 2024 fair play award prediction: Can England finally claim some European glory?

European football is filled with deep-rooted rivalries, with causes both on and off the pitch, old and new. Its nations are no different, with many countries sharing animosities with two, three, or more rivals.

As such, games at the Euros can be more than a little tempestuous (think of Ronald Koeman wiping his behind with Olaf Thon’s shirt at Euro ‘88!). However, UEFA will still be handing out the Euro 2024 fair play award, which is handed to the nation with the best disciplinary record, or who have made a particularly powerful gesture in the spirit of fair play.

Ronald Koeman certainly would not have won the fair play award in 1988 – Photo by Icon Sport

In this article, we’ll be listing our top five nations we think are most likely to clinch this more niche title. But first, some fun facts about discipline at the Euros.

Disciplinary facts

  • Despite Ronald Koeman’s infamous gesture, Euro 88 did not see a single red card.
  • Euro 2020 is the worst-disciplined Euros this century, with a huge six red cards.
  • Two of those Euro 2020 reds were earned by Wales in just four matches!
  • But Euro 2000 still holds the record for the most sendings-off, with an incredible 10 early baths.
  • The latest red card ever given was also at Euro 2000, when Nuno Gomes was sent off for Portugal against France in the 117th minute of their semi-final.
  • Gomes earned his sending-off in dramatic fashion, by shoving the referee. His indiscretion earned him a seven month ban from international football.
  • Euro 2016 was the most cautioned tournament on record, with 205 bookings in 51 games.
  • The most cards accumulated per game in Euro history was Russia in 2004, who somehow picked up 14 yellow and two reds in just three group stage games.
Declan Rice keeps his cool in midfield – Photo by Icon Sport

Euro 2024 fair play award prediction: our top five

Slovenia

Kicking off our list are Slovenia. Nestled between Croatia and Italy, Slovenia had the best disciplinary record of any team at Euro 2024 in qualifying.

The Slovenes only accumulated 10 yellow cards, with no reds in their eight qualifying matches. Led by star striker Benjamin Šeško, Slovenia will be hoping to make a splash in Germany

England

Staying in Group C, England are an inclusion that may surprise a few.

The Three Lions have a list of rivals as long as your arm, and have had their fair share of high-profile ill-disciplined moments on the biggest stage, such as David Beckham in 1998.

However, under the calming influence of Gareth Southgate, England are far cooler customers. At Euro 2020, they only received six yellow cards in seven matches, with no reds. 

England were even more disciplined at the 2022 World Cup, with just one yellow card in five games.

Rodri is key to Spain's incredible possession stats – Photo by Icon Sport

Spain

Spain were another well-disciplined side at the last World Cup.

Los Rojos only received one yellow card in four games, for Aymeric Laporte in their defeat to Morocco on penalties.

One reason the Spaniards pick up so few cards is how well they keep the ball.

They averaged 76% possession against their four World Cup opponents, an incredible number.

And it is hard to pick up yellow cards when you always have possession of the ball.

Croatia

Next door to Slovenia, Croatia are another front runner for the Euro 2024 fair play award. The Croats picked up more yellow cards than their neighbours in qualifying, accumulating 11 bookings.

However, Luka Modric and co only committed 66 fouls in their eight games, which is the lowest of any team present at Euro 2024.

Croatia are an older side now, with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic all well into their 30s. Perhaps their experience helps them better judge their challenges.

Belgium could win the Euro 2024 fair play award
The Red Devils are surprisingly relaxed on the pitch – Photo by Icon Sport

Belgium

Rounding out our list is Belgium. Though the chocolate-making nation’s nickname is the ‘Red Devils’, they have proven to be anything but on the pitch in recent years.

In qualifying, Domenico Tedesco’s side committed the second fewest fouls, and at Euro 2020, they accumulated only four yellow cards in their five fixtures.

At the World Cup in 2022, they had the third-best disciplinary record.


William Evans is a football and politics fanatic. A first-class graduate of UEA's Broadcast and Digital Journalism MA course, he also achieved a first class degree in politics and media studies during his time at UEA.