Veteran Portugal centre-back Pepe and team-mate Bruno Fernandes have taken aim at FIFA’s decision to appoint Argentine referee Facundo Tello to their quarter-final clash with Morocco.
Portugal became the latest major footballing nation to fall at the 2022 Qatar World Cup as Morocco became the first one African – and Arab – country to reach the semi-finals of the tournament.
Speaking after the game, the 39-year-old defender referenced the scenes following Argentina’s dramatic penalty shootout victory over Holland as apparent reason that the trophy should be given to the nation now.
Lionel Messi, Emi Martinez and various other members of the Argentina squad criticised referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz for his performance in Friday’s quarter-final. The Argentine goalkeeper, Martinez, accused Lahoz of wanting Holland to advance.
‘Hopefully we don’t have that ref anymore… He’s useless! Van Gaal said they have an advantage if it goes to penalties, he needs to keep his mouth shut,’ he told pressmen.
The Spaniard referee dished out 18 yellow cards, with FIFA investigating the conduct of both sides.
‘We conceded a goal that we didn’t expect. But I have to say: it’s unacceptable for an Argentine to referee our game,’ Pepe said.
‘After what happened yesterday, with Messi speaking. All of Argentina speaking and an Argentine referee comes to whistle. After what I saw today, they can give the title to Argentina now.’
Fernandes echoed his team-mate’s sentiments, saying the referee’s decision not to award him a penalty was particularly incredulous.