October 3, 2023

In his eagerness to make himself stand out, referee Mateu Lahoz joined the guard of honour that Cádiz made for the Real Madrid players. He had already done so before Barça’s match against Betis a week earlier, but, of course, it has only now come to light. The guard if honour is an old tradition and it has never occurred to any referee to stand there before, firstly because he has no role to play in it and, secondly, because his presence can only be misinterpreted.

A week before there was no official in the guard at Levante’s game against Madrid, nor was there a one for Granada’s game against Betis this Sunday. Let’s rule out, therefore, that there was any instruction from the federation. Mateu did it on his own. To draw attention to himself. Because he enjoys that.


Main man in the middle

He has long sought to distinguish himself from the crowd. He began with some permissive refereeing, more in line with what we see as the English style, which gained him support from fans and press fed up with pernickety refereeing. But once he had gone down that route, he started mixing permissiveness with poor refereeing (that Hazard sending off as an example) and increased his ‘Hollywood’ poses.

It is striking how he draws in the camera while in the dressing room tunnel, chumming up with the famous players, how he theatricalises his friendship with them. On Sunday we saw him gleefully accepting a cheeky slap from Casemiro in the tunnel, a minute before making his way into the guard of honour. Truly repulsive.


The role of a referee

The referee is a judge, not a footballer, and that requires distance. So he should neither take part in the guard, nor should he be exposed to a player’s friendly slaps in front of the cameras. In Spain the myth was created that he was the best because he was different, but then these differences grew and now he is a conceited man masked behind a sanctimonious face whose next incident we await, not knowing when it will arrive.

To cap it all, he, along with Gil Manzano and Del Cerro, form our World Cup officiating trio, from which FIFA will choose one or two. This summer he will reach retirement age, but as the World Cup is in winter, if he is chosen we will have to suffer him for another year.


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