Brazilian referee for the England v France match was a joke

Former Manchester United defender Gary Neville branded Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio as a ‘joke of a referee’ after England’s 2-1 defeat to France in the quarter-finals of the World Cup on Saturday night.

Harry Kane’s missed penalty dominated the post-match headlines, but Sampaio’s performance drew a lot of attention.

Neville said, “He had an absolute nightmare. A joke from a referee. I’m not saying it was all because of England’s defeat – people will say it’s excuses – but he’s just a bad referee, bad in rank.”

Opening goal controversy

The Brazilian official made several baffling calls in the 90 minutes, including one to award Bukayo Saka a free kick ahead of Aurelien Tchouameni’s opening goal on the night.

Replays suggested that French defender Dayot Upamecano Saka appeared to have made a mistake and failed to win the ball cleanly.

Minutes later, Upamecano appeared to have fouled Harry Kane by bundling the Tottenham Hotspur striker to the ground as he entered the penalty area. The VAR agreed and did not order Sampaio to review the decision.

Kane denied the penalty in the first half

Again replays suggested England have struggled as Kane was clumsily challenged and bundled to the ground.

Neville continued, “It’s a simple decision. He kicks his leg away – I’m not sure why that isn’t a foul. He nibbled and he kicked him. It must be a free kick. Upamecano tried three or four times to win the ball, but he couldn’t win the ball, over Saka, over Kane.”

Speaking on Sky Sports News, the TV pundit added: “I thought he was awful. I’m not blaming the referee for England being out, by the way, I just thought he was awful. I don’t really say that anymore. Used to be when I played. But now it is rare.”

“I thought he was a shock. We were right in that corner where the penalty was with Harry Kane in the first half. It felt like we were on top of it.

There were three or four fouls in that part of the field in the first half where you thought, “How could that not be? It was weird.”

England did get a second penalty kick that night after Theo Hernandez pushed Mason Mount to the ground. However, Sampaio had missed the push on Mount’s back and had previously decided not to take any further action by swinging on.

However, VAR intervened and Sampaio reversed his initial decision after watching replays on the fieldside monitor.

Of the incident, Neville said: “Even the penalty that was given against Theo Hernandez was not given on the pitch. Don’t think too much about that. It was a flagrant violation, that.

The full-back thought he had lost his man and was about to score, so he double-faulted by charging him in the back. The referee was so bad.”

Photo credit: IMAGO / Pro Shots

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