Wilton Sampaio was dubbed “a joke of a referee” by Gary Neville after a number of crucial decisions were made against England during their 2-1 World Cup quarterfinal loss to France on Saturday.
Due to goals from Aurelien Tchouameni and Olivier Giroud, the Three Lions were eliminated from the tournament; however, referee Sampaio’s performance garnered more attention than the actual game.
Although replays appeared to show that Dayot Upamecano had caught Bukayo Saka and had not won the ball cleanly, the Brazilian referee did not award Bukayo Saka a free kick prior to Tchouameni’s opening goal for France. He later decided that the contact made by the Bayern Munich defender on Harry Kane was not deserving of a penalty.
Even though replays once more suggested that the England captain had been carelessly shoved to the ground, VAR concurred and did not order Sampaio to review the decision.
Nine minutes into the second half, Saka was given a penalty for a clear foul by Tchouameni, and as the game neared its conclusion, Theo Hernandez pounded Mason Mount to the ground.
Amazingly, Sampaio decided there was no need for further action after Mount was shoved in the back. However, VAR disagreed, and Sampaio changed his mind after taking a quick glance at the pitchside monitor.
Sampaio’s performance was harshly critiqued by Neville on ITV’s coverage of the game as a result of those and other choices. “He had an absolute nightmare. A joke of a referee,” he vented.
“I’m not saying it was all down to England’s defeat – people will say it is excuses – but he’s just a bad referee, rank bad.
“It’s a simple decision. He kicks his leg away – I’m not sure why that isn’t a foul,” Neville added for the potential foul on Saka that eventually led to France’s first goal.
“He’s nibbled and he’s kicked him. It should be a free-kick. Upamecano has tried to win the ball on three or four occasions where can’t win the ball, on Saka, on Kane.”