InternationalReferee under serious fire

Referee under serious fire

THE standards of some highly-rated referees in Qatar have been “bordering on appalling” during the World Cup matches, according to former English-born Fifa referee Keith Hackett.

He specifically hammered Spanish referee, who officiated in the Holland versus Argentina match. Even celebrity players Lionel Messi and Emi Martinez have criticised Antonio Mateu Lahoz with the Aston Villa goalkeeper describing the Spaniard as “useless”.

Usually, I avoid saying the wrong words against match-officials because the football judges have a thankless job to do.  But I must confess Lahoz was way, way below par and deserve the brickbats. This is especially in delivering the cautions from a faraway distance, which looked meaningless to me.


Hackett, one of the world’s most experienced referees, now retired, said Lahoz simply lacked “presence in the art of non-verbal communications.” He then called it the “worst performance in this World Cup”.

But it was the Spaniard who had the final say as he dished out a staggering 17 yellow cards during the game and even in the penalty shootout, as well as awarding 48 fouls across the 120 minutes, plus stoppage time.

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Messi said: “I don’t want to speak about referees because after 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. A lot of joy and relief. It wasn’t to go to penalty kicks. We suffered too much for how it all happened. But the it’s the quarter finals of the World Cup.”

Strangely, too, Messi also avoided punishment for several incidents throughout the match, including one where he deliberately handballed and would usually have been booked. He eventually shown a yellow card in the 10th minute of second-half stoppage time, which could and probably should’ve been his sending off.

Lahoz, who regularly officiated Messi when throughout his Barcelona career in Spain, was also accused of being a “fanboy” by many global fans. 

One tweeted: “How’s Messi not got a yellow the ref is actually a fanboy…well below the refereeing expectations”


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Another wrote: “Messi could stamp on a Dutch player’s head and this ref would yellow card the Dutch player never seen such a fanboy ref.”

A third argued: “The ref in this game is having a shocker. He’s clearly a Messi fanboy!” And a fourth echoed: “Seriously this ref being such a fanboy of Messi is shocking! Being treated completely different to every other player.”

It’s real time for a change.

FIFA must, in my opinion, appoint the most authoritative referees especially in the final stretches of this tournament before a real refereeing-farce emerges.

* Suresh Nair is an award-winning sports journalist who is also a qualified international coach and international referee instructor

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