‘He was a JOKE of a referee’: Gary Neville hits out at Brazilian official Wilton Sampaio after his string of controversial decisions in England’s World Cup defeat by France, insisting he had ‘an absolute nightmare’
Sampaio made a number of contentious decisions throughout England’s quarter-final defeat, leading to backlash from fans online.
Speaking on ITV following the game, Neville couldn’t hide his frustration with the referee’s performance. ‘The referee I thought he had an absolute nightmare, he was a joke of a referee.’ Neville said.
Gary Neville expressed his frustration with the standard of officiating after England lost to France
Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio made a number of contentious decisions throughout the World Cup quarter final
‘I’m not saying he was at fault for England’s defeat. People will say it’s excuses, but he was just a bad referee.’
After France took an early lead through Aurelien Tchouameni, Sampaio came under fire from England players who felt the referee had failed to penalise a foul against Bukayo Saka that went unpunished in the build up to Les Blues’ opener.
The 40-year-old would again find himself the centre of controversy later in the first half when Harry Kane was brought down on the edge of the penalty box after a clumsy challenge from Dayot Upamecano.
Sampaio denied England a first-half penalty despite Harry Kane appearing to be brought down in the box
Despite the protestations from those around him, Sampaio would immediately wave off calls for a spot kick, with a subsequent VAR review upholding his unpopular decision.
England would ultimately get their opportunity to level from the penalty spot after the interval, with Harry Kane scoring past club teammate Hugo Lloris and becoming the Three Lions’ joint-highest scorer in the process.
Les Blues would again take the lead though, with Olivier Giroud’s extending his lead at the top of France’s scoring charts with a 78th-minute header.
Sampaio would again be centre of attention minutes later, as Mason Mount was shoved by Theo Hernandez, with VAR intervening to award England a penalty that Kane was, this time, unable to convert.