Portuguese pair Pepe and Bruno Fernandes were furious with the Argentine referee after their team’s departure from Saturday’s World Cup round of 16 to Morocco and believe there is a preference for Lionel Messi et al in Qatar 2022.
Morocco progressed to the semi-finals after a 1–0 win at Al Thumama Stadium, becoming the first African country to make the last four of a World Cup.
But for Portugal, European champions in 2016, it is likely the end of this tournament for many of their older players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, 37, and Pepe, who is 39.
Portugal’s players were dissatisfied with some of the decisions made during the match by Argentina’s referee Facundo Tello and his team, as well as what they felt was a waste of time by Morocco.
Afterwards, Pepe and Bruno expressed their displeasure that an Argentinian official had been chosen to take charge of the game.
“It is unacceptable that an Argentinian referee is directing our game,” said Pepe. “After what happened yesterday, with [Lionel] Messi talks, all of Argentina talks and the referee comes here to whistle. I’m not saying he comes here conditioned… but what did we play in the second half?
“The goalkeeper fell to the ground. He only gave eight minutes of extra time. We worked seriously and the referee gave eight minutes? “The only team that played football was us. We are sad. We had the quality to win the World Cup and we didn’t.”
And he added: “The feeling and the arrogance of the referee on the pitch, I can bet everything that Argentina will be champions.
“For what he did today. An Argentinian referee, out of nine referees, five who were on the field today, are Argentinians… what more can I say? Let’s see who will win at the end…”
When he spoke later, Bruno repeated those thoughts, despite being told by the team’s press officer to choose his words carefully.
“It is very strange to have a referee who still has his national team in the league and not a Portuguese referee [at the World Cup],” he said.
“Our referees perform in the Champions League, so they have the quality and the level to be here. These referees are not the Champions League, they are not used to these kind of games, they don’t have the pace for this.”
“They have clearly tilted the field. In the first half there is a clear penalty on me. I am isolated and never in my life will I let myself fall if I am alone in front of the goalkeeper and I can shoot on goal.” such a situation.”
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