Barely three weeks after he was sent home from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar for incompetency, Referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz has hit the headlines again.
Lahoz was making his return to the centre of the pitch for the first time since he was sent home from Qatar after issuing a total of 16 yellow cards and two reds during the intense World Cup quarter-final match between Argentina and Netherlands, which generated several negative reactions from players of both nations including Lionel Messi.
In his return to action in La Liga on Saturday, Lahoz issued three controversial red cards in multiple incidents that stalled the game for several minutes. One card was rescinded after the VAR’s intervention.
Barcelona defender Jordi Alba was the first to be given the marching order in the match after picking up a second yellow card in the 78th minute for arguing with the referee due to a free-kick awarded to their opponents, a decision that left many of the Blaugrana players in awe.
Two minutes later, the Espanyol duo of Vinicius Souza and Leandro Cabrera were both sent off for a challenge on Robert Lewandoski, with Cabrera receiving a straight red card that sent shockwaves to the Espanyol bench after the defender appeared to have kicked the Barca striker in the follow up to foul.
After several minutes of the fiasco, Lahoz urged to review the footage of the incident on the VAR monitor, after which he decided to reverse the decision of the red card shown to Cabrera.
At full-time, 15 other yellow cards were shown to players from Barcelona and Espanyol in the Catalan derby, with Barcelona manager Xavi also at the receiving end of a booking for complaining about one of Lahoz’s decisions.
Marcos Alonso scored Barcelona’s goal in the seventh minute of the encounter before Joselu equalised for Espanyol in the game’s final minutes.