Quarter Final we saw Netherlands lose to Argentina in penalties. Lets start from the beginning.
Netherlands in their famous Orange, Argentine in their famous sky blue and white colours. had a game that lasted 120 mins and was decided in penalty shootouts. in this match we had the Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz was by far on the top 5 worse referees of this tournament. At such a stage in the game FIFA should bring referees that are up for such games, I am not the only one who thinks so, it was quoted by Messi after the match “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,”
Furthermore, in a game where a Europeans team and a Spanish speaking country for FIFA to pick a Spanish referee is by far the most baffling decision ever. Ideally it should be a neutral referee Either from Asia or Africa. Probably in a quarter final there would be tow referees that can be called on for such match who represent the three contents mentioned. Victor Gomez from South Africa would probably be the best Referee from Africa right now, or Alireza Faghani who i believe would be the best to represent Asian referees. I would say FIFA would be accountable for this mistake for choosing a European Referee to attend a European team versus a South American team.
Antonio was label one of the 5 worse referees in Europe, and coaches like Pep Guardiola would agree on this remark, also numerous players like Messi mentioned above or even his team mate Emiliano Martinez would agree that he is not the best of choices for such occasions.
Lets get back to the match and see where the referee turns the table or could have turned the table. Argentina were the first to “draw first blood” or in soccer terms score the first goal with an amazing pass by no other than Messi. Messi made a few magical touches and a few magical dribbles, even though not a Messi fan, with only pure talent and ability Messi is the best player there is right now.
In the min 54 we see the most clear and intentional handball which any referee would give a yellow card and even the player wont be able to deny the fact you can see the replay here. Referee gives handball but no yellow card, the most shocking decision ever I hope one day he will come out and let us know what he was thinking in that moment.
The second decision error in my opinion and many might agree, the penalty kick. The Dutch player had his leg in a natural position and there looked to be not enough contact to be given a penalty kick on such high stake match. if we look at replays firstly the Dutch player had his leg in natural position there was no attempt to slide or take the ball illegally secondly the foul was committed outside of the box or on the line which does not confirm it to be in the box and finally where is VAR? This is a critical moment where VAR needs to step in and do its job, instead they leave the match to the hands of Antonio, really what a shame. there were few other moments, in the match where the referee showed how weak and horrible he is. the other one would be the Argentine player commits one of the most horrific fouls and only gets referee gives yellow which we have to say good job on this occasion what about the action afterwards? Argentine player shoots the ball at Dutch sub players referee ignores, Player comes with cleats out tackle and referee gives yellow, which some would argue this a reckless tackle and should have been a red. Finally Messi gets a yellow card for wasting time in crucial mins of the game in but if referee would have implemented the yellow card for obvious and clear handball this means not only Messi gets another yellow but also means he wouldn’t have played the semifinal match. Also this could have changed the tides for Netherlands favour or at the least Messi was not going to start with the PK shootout and who knows it may have went Netherlands way. We will not know because of such bad refereeing, Argentina won the game and that is the end of that.
Yet after talking about some of the issues, and we broke them down. we need to ask, how can FIFA pick such a referee with a bad reputation at a world cup, also how would they pick a referee from Europe while an European team was playing. This is not the first time FIFA did this, in the group stage they have appointed Janny Sikazwe who has the famous incident of ending an African cup of nation match at min 85. We need to ask questions, and we need FIFA to be accountable for such disappointments we need the referees to get the deserved punishment. I believe FIFA to be responsible, they have seen and known of such referees and if they did not know then they should have an analyst that would have caught such bad referees and not allowed them to participate in such a high level stage.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.