How many yellow cards does it take for a referee to be in control of a game?

by Lorraine Williamson
referee issued 15 yellow cards

FOOTBALL – Players and fans are always the first to blame referees for unfair decisions and yellow cards. Matches during the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar were no different. But also, the controversy and yellow cards have now continued into La Liga.

One match much talked about during the World Cup was when the Netherlands were sent home after losing their quarter-final game to Argentina. Argentina then won their semi-final 3-0 against Croatia. Then, they went on to win the World Cup after their defeat of France by penalties.

However, one reason the Netherlands v Argentina match was on everyone´s lips, was the referee and the number of cards he dished out. This match saw the most cards in World Cup history.

Referee, Antonio Mateo Lahoz

Antonio Mateo Lahoz is arguably the most well-known referee in Spanish football having refereed La Liga matches since the 2008 season. He is also an international referee with experience at the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

However, what happened during that World Cup game was astonishing as a total of 18 yellow cards and 1 red were issued in that game alone.

La Liga derby

Back on Spanish soil, and Mateo Lahoz next refereed the Barcelona v Espanyol derby at Camp Nou on New Year´s Eve. Déjà vu!

He handed out 15 yellow cards and 2 red. Many of which came after 70 minutes of play.

First half of yellow cards

The first goal came for Barcelona after just 7 minutes when Alonso scored his first for the club and headed the ball into the net.

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Ansu Fati picked up the first yellow card when he fouled Gil giving a free kick to the Espanyol side. Just a minute later, Ansu Fati claimed he was fouled by Olivan, but Lahoz waved play on. Mere minutes later, Gavi and Olivan clashed. The ref booked both. Just one minute after that, Cabrera of Espanyol was next to receive the yellow card for blocking Roberto.

By the end of the first half, Barcelona were up 1-0, but 4 yellow cards had been issued.

Second half of yellow cards

The first yellow of the second half came for Calero of Espanyol for a foul on De Jong 10 minutes in. The next 15 minutes were fairly uneventful, until Espanyol were awarded a penalty 71 minutes into the game. Joselu sent the ball straight to the centre of the net as Ter Stegan went to the right. At 1-1 there was everything to play for, and 20 minutes to do it in.

Ten minutes of madness

Yellow cards followed one after the other. Vinicius Souza of Espanyol, Edu Exposito also Espanyol, Jordi Alba (Barcelona) all received yellow cards. Then at the same time, Ferran Torres went down and looked for a penalty for Barcelona. Instead, he was also booked. This time the reason was for diving. Pedri was next in the book. Then Jordi Alba received another booking, therefore he was shown the red card. The ref must have been seeing red by this point as Vinicius Souza also received his second yellow. It was chaos on the field as Joselu was next up for the yellow. Lahoz then went straight to red for Cabrera after a foul on Lewandowski. However, after checking with VAR, this card was overturned.

From the minute Espanyol equalised, there was a 10-minute period when ALL these cards were issued. Both teams were then playing with 10 men with just 7 minutes of normal time remaining.

Stoppage time

Things appeared to have calmed down somewhat. That was until 5 minutes into stoppage time. Then, Barcelona´s Raphinha was next to be booked from the bench, and one minute later, it was Espanyol´s Javi Puado´s turn. At the same time, Xavi was also booked from the bench. Then a minute later, Barça´s substitute goalkeeper, Temas had his turn at receiving the yellow.

This was the last card of the match which was given 7 minutes into stoppage time. The match lasted another 4 minutes before finishing 1-1.

There were a total of 15 yellow cards issued between the teams, plus 2 of the players received their second yellows and were sent off.

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