Even referees can be eliminated from the World Cup.
Following his controversial performance officiating Argentina’s quarterfinal win over the Netherlands on Friday, Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz was reportedly removed from the 2022 World Cup and will not work any of the tournament’s remaining four games. The Spanish referee, who works in Spain’s La Liga, has already left Qatar, according to Spanish outlet COPE.
The VAR (video assistant replay) referees were not punished, however, and will be given the options to work in the remaining matches.
Both teams were enraged with Lahoz throughout the match, which saw Argentina blow a late 2-0 lead before rallying to win in penalties. Lahoz handed out 18 yellow cards and one red card in the match, including a World Cup record of 15 players on the field to receive a card. Dutch defender Denzel Dumfries was sent off during penalties. The match also had 10 minutes of added time in regulation, during which the Netherlands scored to tie the game and send it to extra time.
“I don’t want to talk about the referee because you can’t be honest,” Lionel Messi told reporters after the match. “If you talk they sanction you; FIFA must think about it, they can’t put a referee who isn’t up to the task for these instances.”
With Argentina leading 2-1, tensions boiled over in the 88th minute, when Argentina’s Leandro Paredes fired the ball straight into the Dutch bench after fouling Nathan Ake. The Netherlands bench subsequently stormed the field and Virgil Van Dijk proceeded to level Paredes, resulting in a melee.
In the first half, Lahoz opted not to give Messi a yellow card for a deliberate hand ball. But despite that, it was Messi and the Argentinians who were more vocal against Lahoz.
“The referee was giving everything to them,” Argentinian goalie Emiliano Martinez, who made two saves in penalties, said. “He gave 10 minutes for no reason. … He just wanted them to score. He is useless.”