Sunderland captain John O'Shea hopes "common sense" will prevail and the decision to send off Wes Brown will be overturned by the Football Association; Gus Poyet has asked for an apology from referees' chief Mike Riley; and Robbie Savage called it the "worst decision" he had ever seen.

Brown, who was making just his second league start since January 2012 after coming back from injury, was dismissed by Kevin Friend in the 36th minute for a sliding tackle on Charlie Adam during Sunderland's 2-0 defeat to Stoke City on Saturday.

The tackle, while delivered at speed, appeared to be clean with virtually no contact. Robbie Savage is not the only person who has taken to Twitter to pour scorn on Friend's decision, with Dietmar Hamann also questioning the discrepancy between an unpunished Wayne Rooney challenge against Cardiff and Brown's sending off. But is the Wes Brown decision the worst case of a misjudged sending off ever?

1) Aleksandrs Cauna (CSKA MOSCOW v Anzhi Makhachkalak)

In a decision that has to be rated at least 10 times harsher than Wes Brown's sending off, Aleksandrs Cauna of CSKA was given his marching orders for doing precisely nothing in a Russian league game with Anzhi Makhachkala, who later went on to win the game 2-0. Hmm.

2) Hakan Unsal (Brazil v TURKEY)

Proving himself a more unconvincing actor than even Nic Cage in the Wicker Man remake, the overriding memory of the 2002 World Cup was Rivaldo clutching his face by the corner flag as if he'd taken a hammer to the jaw.

What actually happened was Hakan Unsal had dinked the ball at his knee, but saw red for a second offence. Rivaldo was later fined £5,180 for playacting, which is approximately the average bar tab for any footballer on a Monday night.

3) Robin van Persie (Barcelona v ARSENAL)


One of the most controversial red cards given in recent memory, Arsène Wenger declared the sending off of Van Persie for ostensibly kicking the ball away as "killing" his side's Champions League tie with Barça, while Van Persie called it "a total joke". His argument was that he couldn't hear the whistle and so took his shot. No news yet on Wenger's argument for wearing that ridiculous coat.

4) Josip Simunic (CROATIA v Australia)

Graham Poll made English referees a laughing stock when he gave probably the most ridiculous red card of all time; a red card resulting from three yellow cards. Short of tripping over his own feet, or giving a goal for a ball hitting a post, we're not sure how else he could have embarrassed himself further.

5) David Healy (Wales v NORTHERN IRELAND)


Probably the most mean-spirited sending off in the list, Northern Ireland's David Healy was given two yellow cards in quick succession after scoring against Wales in a World Cup qualifying game. Domenico Messina booked Healy for his goal celebrations – kicking a corner flag and gesturing non-offensively to his dad in the crowd.

6) Ashley Vickers (DORCHESTER TOWN v Havant and Waterlooville

Possibly the finest example of having sympathy with a player sent for an early bath is this instance in which player-manager Ashley Vickers rugby tackled a streaker who had been disrupting the game.

The streaker didn't even have the balls (ahem) to go properly naked, instead wearing a Borat-style mankini.

7) Kaká (BRAZIL v Ivory Coast)

Clearly taking pointers from the Rivaldo school of acting, Abdul Kader Keita went down clutching his face during the 2010 World Cup as a result of Kaká, er, brushing him in the chest with his arm. The Brazil coach at the time, Dunga, described the decision as "a totally unjustified sending-off".

8) Roman Shishkin (LOKOMOTIV MOSCOW v Zenit St. Petersburg)


In what is the football equivalent of being wrongly chastised at school for your friend passing you a note, Roman Shiskin of Lokomotiv Moscow was sent off for a foul his team-mate committed on Hulk.

"You don't have to be a genius to understand that this was a big mistake", said manager Slaven Bilic. (Not that he can talk on the matter of unjust red cards, see No10 in our list).

9) Gianfranco Zola (Nigeria v ITALY)

Gianfraco Zola, generally regarded as one of the nicest guys in football, had his final World Cup appearance ruined in 1994 by this pretty awful decision courtesy of Arturo Brizio Carter.

Zola's frustration is clear to see as he drops to his knees and kicks an advertising board before leaving the field for the final time in a World Cup. In the interests of balance however, he had shamelessly dived about 10 seconds before all of this happened.

10) Laurent Blanc (FRANCE v Croatia)

While Laurent Blanc is clearly in the wrong and his flailing arm probably did deserve a yellow card, the straight red he received in the World Cup 98 semi-final thanks to Bilic's theatrics meant the heartbreak of missing the final.