Lionel Messi has urged FIFA to drop Antonio Mateu Lahoz after his horror show during Argentina’s 2022 World Cup quarter-final victory over the Netherlands.
Argentina prevailed over Holland on penalties at the Lusail Stadium in Qatar on Friday, after the Dutch came from 2-0 down to level the match after normal time.
It was an epic encounter, though marred by numerous ugly scenes, with fights continuously breaking out between the players.
Spanish referee Lahoz failed to keep control of the two teams, as well as their coaching staff and as the game wore on seemed to just be booking players for the sake of it.
Commentators watching the match could not keep track of how many yellow cards were handed out, with the number later confirmed to be 15 – a World Cup record for a single match.
Eight were given to Holland and seven to Argentina, as well as two more that were shown to the coaching staff, with some of those even handed out during the penalty shootout itself.
Emotions continued to spill over after the full-time whistle, and main man Messi, himself booked, could not hide his frustration post-match.
‘I don’t want to speak about referees because after they will sanction you. But people saw what happened,’ the Argentina skipper said.
‘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.’
Lahoz had been tipped as a potential candidate to referee the final in nine days time but this game will surely put an end to that.
17 yellow cards breaks the previous record at a World Cup match, that being the 16 shown during Holland’s clash with Portugal in 2006 – a game known as the ‘Battle of Nuremberg’.
Argentina will now advance to the semi-final where they will face Croatia on Tuesday, after they defeated tournament favourites Brazil on penalties earlier on Friday.
‘A lot of joy and relief. It wasn’t to go to penalty kicks. We suffered too much for how it all happened,’ Messi, who set up the first goal and scored the second, added.
‘But the it’s the quarter finals of the World Cup. Going through is the most beautiful and impressive thing.
‘Argentina is among the top four, because we show game after game that we know how to play each game with the same intensity, with the same will.’