Referee who handed 18 yellow cards in Argentina-Netherlands game sent home: Report
Controversial Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz who officiated the high-octane Argentina-Netherlands quarterfinal clash has been sent home, according to a report by COPE, a Spanish media outlet.
Lahoz had come under fire after he handed as many as 18 yellow cards during the match. His handling of the game triggered negative feedback from both sets of players as well as fans.
According to the report, the La Liga referee has not been granted any of the remaining four games while his compatriots from the match have been given the option to participate in other matches as VAR officials.
Lahoz previously officiated in the Qatar vs Senegal and Iran vs United States matches where he gave out six and four yellow cards respectively. The Netherlands-Argentina game was the fifth World Cup match Lahoz had officiated in the World Cup finals. He officiated two games in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Messi harshly criticised Lahoz
Argentina captain Lionel Messi was particularly scathing of Lahoz in his post-match statements. Messi, at the time, urged FIFA to look into the issue and not allow Lahoz to officiate another match.
"I don’t want to speak about referees because they will sanction you. But people saw what happened. I think FIFA must take care of this. It cannot put a referee like that for a match of such magnitude, of such importance. The referee cannot fail to be up to the task."
Similarly, Argentina's penalty shootout hero Emiliano Martinez added, "He gave 10 minutes extra time for no reason. He just wanted them to score. That referee is crazy. Arrogant. You say something to him and he talks back to you. Hopefully we don't have that ref anymore...He's useless!"
Other teams complain about referees as well
Referees at the World Cup have been receiving stick ever since the knockout phase began. After Argentina, Portugal and England also complained about the decision-making of referees in the tournament.
Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes lashed out at the referee after his team crashed out of the World Cup.
"I don't know if they're going to give the cup to Argentina. I don't care, I'm going to say what I think, and screw them. It's very strange that a referee from a team that's still in the cup officiates us. They've clearly tilted the field against us."
Similarly, England defender Harry Maguire took a shot at the referee post the quarterfinal defeat to France.
"I thought the referee’s decision-making throughout the game was really poor. We always stand here, we as players, we get criticised, so it would be nice to see if he comes out and says whether he’s had a good game or not," said Maguire in a post-match TV interview.