Most soccer fans only remember a few referee names. The reason is usually not good, almost always linked to this memory exception to controversial or directly bad performances. The fans take out their visceral side towards the referees who become protagonists, just the opposite of what any referee looks for, whose objective is always to go unnoticed.
This scenario was last seen in the Barcelona derby at the Camp Nou, where Barça and Espanyol were eclipsed by Mateu Lahoz, the focus of the cameras both for his decisions and for his particular way of directing, excessive in dialogue and in the unnecessary physical contact with the footballers. "If the players want to play, the referee should not bother," defended Mateu Lahoz, a referee since he was 15, in a Movistar report.
In a Catalan derby that was not tough, he drew 17 yellow cards, two of which led to red ones for Jordi Alba and Vini Souza, and most were for protesting when the game had already gotten out of hand in the final stretch. The list of admonished only finds comparison in his career with his previous match, the Netherlands-Argentina in the World Cup quarterfinals. He showed 18 yellow cards, a record in a World Cup event, and earned Messi's reproach: “You can't put a referee like that for such an important game. He is not up to it ”.
Lahoz completely broke the average number of cards in Qatar, which was just over three per game. His refereeing quartet did not make it past the semifinal cut and went home, as also happened in the last Eurocup after the controversial Portugal-France match in the group stage. Curiously, it has been in his last two games where he has shown the most cards in his more than 400 games since his debut in the First Division in September 2008 in a Sevilla-Sporting game.
"He has gotten out of control," said the Blaugrana coach, Xavi Hernández, after the draw against the parakeets, who in the 26th minute, in an unusual and out of place gesture in the middle of the game, saw how the braid approached him to hug him and tell him she was glad to see him. The man from Egar, laudatory before and after the derby with Algimia de Alfara, also suffered as a player from his peculiar refereeing.
“It unsettles you. He doesn't whistle very clear fouls”, denounced Xavi in 2012, when the Valencian was the favorite of Mourinho, then Real Madrid coach, who described him as “the best”. At that time, Mateu was classified as a referee who let people play, in the English style, which rewarded teams that made aggressiveness to the limit of the regulations their hallmark, as was the case with the whites. Quite the opposite of a dominant Barça thanks to possession. Nothing to do with his performances of yesteryear with Mateu's recent ones, cut with cards and talks.
"If I can't talk, then don't ask me about personal issues," Canales, from Betis, told him, before seeing two yellow cards in seconds that earned him the first red card of his career last October. "He is not aware", "he is innate", defend his assistants the verbiage of the Valencian, always accompanied by a smile that he uses as a "weapon" to stop the players.
Despite some decisive failures, such as Messi's disallowed goal on the last day of the 2013-14 season that gave Atlético the League, the prestige of the 45-year-old collegiate veteran increased until he led the 2021 Champions League final. His latest appearances, however, have been accompanied by show, the worst word for a referee. “I will be wrong again. I will never convince everyone, but that is the magic of football”, said Mateu recently, who has been “fatal” thinking about the end of a career full of blurs in its last chapters.