Portugal and Pepe fuming over Argentinian match official in Morocco defeat

In the immediate aftermath of Portugal’s defeat to Morocco, veteran central defender Pepe reacted to his country’s elimination from the World Cup by criticizing the choice of match officials, led by Argentinian Facundo Tello. Teammate Bruno Fernandes would later go on to share similar views, seemingly calling into question the integrity of the competition.

Pepe: They should just give Argentina the title

Porto defender Pepe fumed: “We conceded a goal that we didn’t see coming. But what I’ve got to say might come as a bit of a shock but I’m going to have to say it anyway. It’s unacceptable that an Argentinian referee was taking charge of our game. After what happened yesterday, with Messi complaining. They should just give Argentina the title.”

“After what everyone’s saying in Argentina, we have an Argentinian referee. I’m not saying that he was biased towards them but what was that all about in the second half? Their goalkeeper spent most of it on the ground. They only added on eight minutes. Is that referee for real? Eight minutes?”

The 39-year-old continued: “There was hardly any soccer played in the second half. They started committing a lot fouls, the referee didn’t show any yellow cards and they just defended in numbers. The only team that played soccer was us. We’re sad. We had the quality to win the World Cup and we didn’t do it. We weren’t allowed to play the second half.”

Bruno Fernandes: It’s not a level playing field

While Fernandes didn’t make reference to the Messi incident, which happened with a Spanish referee rather than a Portuguese one, the Manchester United playmaker didn’t hold back with his unhappiness at the situation: “I don’t know if they’re going to give the trophy to Argentina. I don’t care, I’m going to say what I think and screw them. It’s very strange that a referee from a country whose national team is still in the competition should officiate our match. It’s not a level playing field.”

Ruben Dias: It was a clear penalty

Pepe’s fellow defender Ruben Dias also voiced his unhappiness with the refereeing performance, although preferred to comment specifically on one moment in the game. Early in the second half, Otavio and Achraf Hakimi clashed in the box and Portugal felt as if they should’ve been awarded a spot-kick.

“The penalty? It looked clear to us. And it defined the game. If we’d equalised at that point, it would’ve been like starting the match all over again.”

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