Lionel Messi to get his wish as controversial World Cup referee plans to retire

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Mateu Lahoz is planning to retire (Image: Getty Images)
Mateu Lahoz is planning to retire (Image: Getty Images)

Referee Mateu Lahoz is planning to retire after being caught at the centre of another controversy surrounding his card-happy officiating.

Lahoz made headlines when Lionel Messi was among those to criticise his refereeing after he dished out a whopping 17 yellow cards in Argentina’s World Cup quarter-final win over the Netherlands last month. He was dropped from taking charge of any further matches in Qatar and was sent home to his day job in LaLiga.

But things have not calmed down upon his return to Spain, with Barcelona ’s 1-1 draw against local rivals Espanyol bringing 16 yellows and two red cards on New Year’s Eve. It could have been even more, but for Lahoz to overturn his own decision to send off Espanyol’s Leandro Cabrera after consulting VAR.

Having been slammed by Messi and Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez at the World Cup, Lahoz was then on the receiving end of some pointed words from Barcelona boss Xavi, who said he had “lost control of the game”. The 45-year-old followed that performance up by sending off Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli in the first half of his side’s 5-0 Copa del Rey win over Linares on Wednesday.

Being in the spotlight seems to have affected Lahoz, who has now decided to hang up his boots at the end of the season, according to TyC Sports. He has officiated in Spain's top flight since 2008 and reached the peak of his career when he took charge of the 2021 Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea.

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However, his recent performances have caused a lot of anger and he will not take charge of a game this weekend in LaLiga after being dropped.

Lionel Messi to get his wish as controversial World Cup referee plans to retireMateu Lahoz has been dropped by LaLiga for this weekend's round of games (Getty Images)

"I told him that he had lost control of the game," Barca boss Xavi said when asked why he was booked during the fiery encounter with Espanyol. "'Do you think?' - he said to me. But we keep coming back to the referee and I can't control the officials. They should come out and speak, explain their decisions and say what they said to the players. I can't do anything."

Messi was similarly furious after the Netherlands match, which Argentina won on penalties. "This match shouldn't have ended as it did,” he said. "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."

Aston Villa goalkeeper Martinez was even more scathing. “He gave 10 minutes extra time for no reason. He just wanted them to score. That referee is crazy,” he said. “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.”

Felix Keith

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