World Cup referee slammed by Lionel Messi at centre of fresh controversy

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Mateu Lahoz has been overlooked for refereeing action this weekend
Mateu Lahoz has been overlooked for refereeing action this weekend

Mateu Lahoz found himself in Lionel Messi's firing line at the World Cup and has now been snubbed by LaLiga.

The referee, who has officiated in Spain's top flight since 2008, has been overlooked for this weekend's round of games after his card-happy antics continued in the recent Catalan derby. Last weekend Lahoz brandished 16 yellow cards and two reds as Barcelona were held by Espanyol.

Xavi, who was booked by the official, claimed he "lost control" of the game with Lahoz sending off Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli just days later during the first half of their Copa del Rey clash.

Going into the weekend Barcelona and Real Madrid are level on points at the top of LaLiga. The Catalans, who sit first courtesy of their goal difference, travel to Atletico Madrid on Sunday. Los Blancos travel to Villarreal on the Saturday as they aim to steal a march.

Lahoz has taken charge of several big games throughout his career, including the 2021 Champions League final in which Chelsea beat Manchester City. However, he has earned himself a reputation as an official who likes to dish out his cards, which has copped criticism.

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He was the man making the decisions in Argentina's quarter-final win over the Netherlands at the World Cup. 17 yellow cards were given out and Dutchman Denzel Dumfries was sent-off despite the game finishing. It led to Lionel Messi being amongst several players to call out the referee.

World Cup referee slammed by Lionel Messi at centre of fresh controversyThe official copped criticism for how he handled the World Cup quarter-final

The Argentine told TyC Sports: "This match shouldn't have ended as it did. I don't want to talk about the referee because they sanction you. But people saw what happened. We were afraid before the match because we knew how he was and I think FIFA has to review this. You can't put a referee like him for these matches."

Emiliano Martinez was even more scathing as he said: "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. It's crazy. Because Spain were eliminated, he wanted to eliminate us. He is the worst referee at the World Cup. Hopefully, we won’t have him again - he's useless."

The 17 cards handed out is a new World Cup record - surpassing the 16 that were awarded back in 2006 when Portugal beat the Netherlands in the Notorious 'Battle of Nuremberg'

Samuel Meade

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