Goal carnage: Football’s biggest blowouts

Since the late 1800s, the world has been fascinated by football. With nearly 1.5 billion people watching the 2022 FIFA World Cup, it is safe to say that the sport is the most popular in the world.

One of the reasons for its popularity is because of the skill necessary to score in a match. A professional game will see between 2-3 goals scored on average. This low score makes it all the more exciting when your favourite team manages to lock in an unexpected goal at the last minute, either winning the game or preventing your team from losing.

While that is the case for the majority of games, there have been some notable exceptions to this.

Today, we will take a look at the biggest blowouts in football history.

10. Kuwait vs. Bhutan (20-0) – 14 February 2000

Kuwait is one country that is used to being the underdogs. 1982 was the only World Cup that they qualified for, in which they were eliminated in round 1. In addition, the team has also gone through multiple FIFA suspensions in recent years and has only begun to rebuild their team in 2022.

Throughout their rocky history, they do however have one game that stands out more than any other on their record: their match against Bhutan that took place on 14 February 2000, in which the Middle Eastern country won 20-0 in an Asian Cup qualification match.

Bashar Abdullah scored eight goals that game, and even their goalkeeper Ahmad Jassim got on the scoresheet, scoring the last goal of the game in a penalty shot following one of Bhutan’s four penalties that game.

9. North Korea vs. Guam (21-0) – 11 March 2005

Guam is a team that has a history of big losses. The small island territory had their first international game against Solomon Islands in 1975, where they lost 5-0. Their second international game was a loss of 11-0 against Fiji in the South Pacific Games.

Among the many major blowouts that Guam has been a part of, none are quite as dramatic as their game against North Korea in 2005, where they lost 21-0 in the 2005 East Asian Football Championship.

During the game, four players from North Korea managed to get a hat trick, with one player scoring seven games. Guam heavily lost all four of their games in that tournament.

8. Australia vs. Tonga (22-0) – 9 April 2001

In the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, Australia managed to beat Tonga 22-0, beating the record that Kuwait previously held for the greatest margin in an international game. Australia would ultimately not qualify for that year’s World Cup, as they would eventually lose to Uruguay in the intercontinental playoffs.

7. Preston North End vs. Hyde United (26-0) – 15 October 1887

October of 1887 saw Preston North End win their FA Cup match 26-0 against Hyde United. The game still holds the record as the largest margin of victory in any FA Cup match.

Preston North End would make it to the 1888 FA Cup Final, losing 1-0 against West Bromwich Albion. A final that had many spectators questioning many of the referee’s decisions, including a free kick awarded to Albion, right as Preston was about to score.

6. Villarreal vs. Navata (27-0) – 19 July 2009

The end of June 2009 saw La Liga Club Villarreal lose Manuel Pellegrini as their manager to Real Madrid, after being with the team for close to five years. This change did not, however, stop them from dominating amateur club Navata in a pre-season friendly match.

In their game, Villarreal was up 10-0 by halftime, and that momentum would carry on for the rest of the game. New coach Ernesto Valverde played a different 11 in each half, with Jonathan Pereira scoring seven goals that game, and Joseba Llorente and Ruben Marcos each scoring four goals as well.

Villarreal would go on to finish seventh place in the 2009/10 La Liga Season.

5. Tahiti vs. Cook Islands (30-0) –  2 September 1971

The Cook Islands played their first national team match in the South Pacific games in 1971. Their first game remains their biggest loss to date, losing 30-0 against Tahiti. Their next two games in the tournament were against Papua New Guinea, and Fiji, where they lost 16-1 and 15-1 respectively.

Surprisingly, in 2015 Tahiti would achieve another 30-0 victory, this time playing against the Federated States of Micronesia at the Pacific Games.

4. Australia vs. American Samoa (31-0) – 11 April 2001

In 2001, Just two days after their 22-0 Win against Tonga, Australia had another massive victory, this time winning 31-0 against American Samoa. This game also took place in the 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

Not only did this game break the record for the largest victory in an international football match, but Australia’s Archie Thompson also broke the record for most goals scored by a single player in an international match by scoring 13 goals, a record that still stands today.

3. Dundee Harp vs. Aberdeen Rovers (35-0) – 12 September 1885

September of 1885 Saw Dundee Harp beat Aberdeen Rovers 35-0, scoring the first goal within one minute of the game. It was the first game of the Scottish Cup.

While the game was undoubtedly a high-scoring one, there is some debate as to whether or not the score actually was 35-0. This is because the referee counted 37 goals in the game. He reportedly remarked to a club official about how difficult it had been to keep up to speed with the large number of goals being scored.

The secretary for Harp noted that he had only counted 35 goals, and the lower number was used as the official record.

Remarkably, it was not the highest-scoring game in Scotland that day, as we’ll see in our next spot on the list.

2. Arbroath FC vs. Bon Accord (36-0) – 12 September 1885

Taking place on the same day as the Dundee Harp and Aberdeen Rovers game, Arbroath beat Bon Accord 36-0, less than 30 kilometres away.

Bon Accord was a newly formed club and showed up to the match without a standard kit or appropriate footwear. Accord’s goalie also never showed up, meaning they had to sub their center back as the keeper for the game.

Arbroath had seven goals discounted for being offside, although the referee later stated that he probably should have counted them, and was just unable to tell at the time of the game, because of the chaos created by how often the team was scoring.

The goalkeeper for Arbroath never touched the ball, spending the entire game standing under a spectator’s umbrella.

The game would hold the largest margin of victory in professional football for the next 117 years, until 2002.

1. AS Adema vs. Stade Olympique L’Emyrne (149-0) – 31 October 2002

The highest-scoring professional football match of all time took place on the 31st of October, 2002, when SO l’Emyrne intentionally lost against their arch-rivals AS Adema. The jaw-dropping score was 149-0 and was the result of SO l’Emyrne deliberately scoring own goals in protest against a referee decision from a previous game.

The decision in question took place during a round-robin playoff, determining the national championship for Madagascar. The title went to Adema after a late penalty was awarded to them, resulting in a draw for that game, meaning that SOE had been eliminated from the tournament.

After the protest, The Malagasy Football Federation suspended SOE coach Ratsimandresy Ratsarazaka for three years, and four of the players were suspended until the end of the season. All other players received a warning, and the referee was not punished.

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