Gary Neville calls Brazilian referee for England's defeat to France 'an absolute joke'

Wilton Sampaio was in the spotlight during England's match against France - AFP
Wilton Sampaio was in the spotlight during England's match against France - AFP

With England hoping to achieve their biggest World Cup victory for 56 years, tensions were bound to be high in England's quarter-final clash against France at Al Bayt Stadium.

A number of key decisions from the officials, principally Wilton Sampaio, the Brazilian referee, also dictated the narrative, with England players and fans not his biggest fan, especially after appeals for a first-half penalty, following a challenge on Harry Kane, were denied.

Telegraph Sport took closer a look at Sampaio, the man in the middle as England exited at the quarter-final stage of the competition.

Who is Wilton Sampaio?

Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio was put in charge of England’s quarter-final against France on Saturday despite the controversial penalty he awarded to Saudi Arabia earlier in the World Cup.

Sampaio, 40, used the pitchside monitor at Education City to penalise a challenge by Poland’s Krystian Bielik on Saudi forward Saleh Al-Shehri, despite minimal contact shown on the replays.

He was also criticised by pundits in Saudi Arabia for failing to give Matty Cash a second yellow card after giving him an early booking in the 16th minute of the match, with Poland going onto win 2-0 on their way to the knockout stages.

What did England say after the match about him?

Asked about the performance of the referee, Southgate said on ITV: "It is pointless going into that. I would rather talk about our players. Congratulations to France. They know they have been in a hell of a game. I really don't think we could have done any more."

Maguire and Bellingham were more open with their criticism of his performance.

Maguire said on ITV: "I can't really explain his performance, the amount of decisions he got wrong was actually incredible. Really poor."

England's Jude Bellingham reacts in front of referee Wilton Sampaio - AP/FRANK AUGSTEIN
England's Jude Bellingham reacts in front of referee Wilton Sampaio - AP/FRANK AUGSTEIN
Harry Kane and Phil Foden of England confront referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio - GETTY IMAGES/ALEX PANTLING
Harry Kane and Phil Foden of England confront referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio - GETTY IMAGES/ALEX PANTLING

Bellingham added: "Not great. Anyone can have a bad game, players and referees, but I think he wasn't where he should have been today in terms of the level for a game like this."

Meanwhile former England player turned pundit Gary Neville was pretty stark in his criticism, saying: "I thought the ref had a nightmare he was an absolute joke referee, rank bad." He also expressed his frustrations on Twitter:

Did he have history with either team?

Sampaio had not previously refereed any matches involving England or France.

He had refereed 381 games in his career, giving out 1,856 yellow cards and 102 red cards. He had also previously awarded 114 penalty kicks.

What other big games had he done?

Sampaio had also been in charge of a high-profile Arab Cup game last year, also in Education City, when Qatar were awarded a penalty against Oman when Akram Afif went over dramatically in the area. Qatar’s winner came in the 97th minute via Var after Sampaio had initially carried on play.

At the last World Cup, four years ago in Russia, Sampaio was part of the refereeing team that helped introduce technology to the tournament. His other two games at this World Cup have both been victories for Holland, against Senegal and USA. He has given out 10 yellow cards so far.

Bruno Boschilia and Bruno Pires, also Brazilian, were Sampaio’s assistants running the line at Al-Bayt Stadium, with United Arab Emirates’ Mohammed Abdulla the fourth official in between the two technical areas.

The Video Assistant Referee (Var) was the Colombian Nicolas Gallo. He was supported by Spaniards Juan Martinez and Alejandro Hernandez, as well as Brazil's Neuza Back .