Cristiano Ronaldo’s biggest Al-Nassr clash against Saudi title rivals ‘will be officiated by Mateu Lahoz’ – the controversial Spanish referee who enraged Lionel Messi after dishing out 18 yellow cards in Argentina’s World Cup win over the Netherlands
- Al-Nassr face Saudi title rivals Al-Ittihad in a top of the table clash on Thursday
- Reports in Spain claim controversial ref Mateu Lahoz will officiate the match
- Lahoz caused uproar in Qatar after dishing out a record 18 yellows in a game
Al-Nassr‘s top of the table clash against Al-Ittihad on Thursday will reportedly be officiated by controversial Spanish referee Mateu Lahoz.
Whistle-happy ref Lahoz has been officiating LaLiga matches since 2008 and is known for not being afraid to reach into his pocket and brandish cards for the slightest infringements.
Having refereed some of football’s biggest matches, the Saudi Pro League have decided to appoint the Spaniard for the superclassico clash between Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Al-Nassr and Al-Ittihad, according to AS.
And the 48-year-old will be a familiar face to Ronaldo, given how he would have taken charge of many Real Madrid games when the Portuguese star was at the club between 2009 and 2018.
There are even reports in Spain that Ronaldo and Lahoz are ‘friends’ and that the official has faced accusations of being biased towards Ronaldo’s former club, Real Madrid, but these claims are unfounded.
Controversial ref Mateu Lahoz (right) is reportedly set to take charge of Cristiano Ronaldo’s (left) biggest Al-Nassr game to date on Thursday, when they face title rivals Al-Ittihad
Ronaldo (left) knows LaLiga referee Lahoz (right) well from his time as a Real Madrid player
Ronaldo fist-bumps Lahoz (left) ahead of Portugal’s Euro 2020 clash with France in Hungary
There are just two points between league leaders Al-Nassr and second-place Al-Ittihad going into Thursday’s clash, in what will be Ronaldo’s biggest game since moving to the Gulf state.
Lahoz is more recently known for causing uproar at the Qatar World Cup in December, where he brandished a record-breaking 18 yellow cards during Argentina’s quarter-final clash with the Netherlands.
Of the 18 yellows, he handed out eight to Argentine players and another eight to Dutch footballers before booking Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni and coach Walter Samuel.
The Netherlands’ Denzel Dumfries was the only man to collect two yellow cards and subsequently a red moments after Lautaro Martinez scored the winning spot-kick in the penalty shootout.
His performance drew ire and was heavily criticised by Argentina’s captain and talisman, Lionel Messi, following the game.
Messi said: ‘I don’t want to speak about referees because after they will sanction you. But people saw what happened.’
Messi added: ‘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.’
It proved to be Lahoz’s final game at the World Cup and was sent home.
Lionel Messi was enraged by Lahoz’s performance in the World Cup quarter-final
Lahoz caused uproar in Qatar after dishing out a record 18 yellows in that feisty clash
It didn’t take the Spaniard long to get back to his trigger-happy ways of officiating, given how he handed out another 15 yellows and two reds in Barcelona’s 1-1 derby draw with Espanyol back in January – his first game after that quarter-final.
It will not be Lahoz’s first time in taking charge of Saudi Pro League games, given he took charge of a game in both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 campaigns.
In those two matches, he showed a total of eight yellows and three reds – two of which were direct sending offs.
Lahoz announced in January that he plans to retire from officiating at the end of the season.