After a 17-year top-flight career that included seven World Cup matches, charismatic Mexican referee Marco Antonio Rodríguez announced his retirement on Wednesday, according to the Mexican federation. His last official match was the semifinal in Brazil that saw the host nation lose 7-1 to eventual champion Germany.
“I dreamed of [working] three World Cups, and I’m satisfied,” Rodríguez, 40, said in a press conference. “I am satisfied by the achievements in my 25-year career. Brazil was the place where I showed what I acquired in this time.”
A referee in Mexico’s Primera División since 1997 and FIFA listed since 2000, Rodríguez became known for his strictness on the field, doling out multiple bookings per game. Along the way, he picked up the nickname Chiquidrácula because of his resemblance of an actor who portrayed Count Dracula on Mexican television.
Despite his reputation as a disciplinarian, Rodríguez, a native of Mexico City, was no stranger to controversy in his career.
At the 2010 World Cup, he showed Tim Cahill a straight red card in Australia’s 4-0 loss to Germany. In 2012, he was suspended for five matches for a bizarre incident in the Liga MX playoffs in which he showed yellow cards to two different players simultaneously, holding one in each hand.
More recently, American fans will remember Rodríguez officiating the United States’ World Cup qualifier in Costa Rica, a 3-1 loss in which center back Matt Besler picked up a yellow card that meant he would miss the encounter with Rodríguez’s native Mexico just four days later. Video replays clearly showed Joel Campbell diving to draw the card.
Rodríguez was also in charge of Uruguay’s 1-0 win over Italy in Brazil, when Luis Suárez bit Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder. Despite missing Suárez’s bite in real time, Rodríguez was handed the assignment for the semifinal.
Still, Rodríguez said he is happy about the way his career came to a close.
“I refereed like a veteran, but with the ambition of a novice,” he said. “I leave happy, because I leave as I thought I would — as Marco Rodríguez dreamed it.”