Wilton Sampaio: who is England vs France referee, is he French, what other World Cup games has he officiated?

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The referee has faced criticism after England were knocked out of the World Cup by France

Referee Wilton Sampaio has come under fire following his controversial decisions made during the quarter final World Cup match between England and France in Qatar. Criticisms made in regards to the referee have come not just from England fans, but the likes of Gary Neville, Gary Lineker, Harry Maguire and Jude Bellingham.

This is everything you need to know.

Who is Wilton Sampaio?

Sampaio is a Brazilian referee who was placed in charge of the England vs France quarter final match. During the World Cup, Sampaio has refereed three other games so far: Saudi Arabia vs Poland, Netherlands vs Senegal and Netherlands vs USA.

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Sampaio’s decisions during the Saudi Arabia match proved controversial, after the referee issued what viewers deemed to be a soft penalty. Later in the game, Sampaio also kept Polish defender Matty Cash on the pitch when he could have been dealt a second yellow card.

Referee Wilton Sampaio looks on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)Referee Wilton Sampaio looks on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Referee Wilton Sampaio looks on during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Over the course of his career, Sampaio has not previously refereed any matches involving England or France, so doesn’t appear to have a history with either team. He had been the referee for 381 games, doling out 1,856 yellow cards, 102 red cards and 114 penalty kicks.

Sampaio has been FIFA listed since 2013. The year prior, he was voted the best referee in the Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A, and during the last season, he officiated three Copa Libertadores matches.

At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Sampaio was part of the team that helped introduce VAR technology to the tournament after FIFA officially approved the use of VAR.

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What happened during the England and France game?

England were knocked out of the World Cup following a 2-1 defeat from France in the quarter-final clash. During the game, Sampiao was criticised for a number of his refereeing decisions, such as denying England a penalty in the first half of the match despite Harry Kane appearing to have been brought down in the box. Despite protests, Sampaio dismissed calls for a spot kick, with a VAR review upholding his decision.

Sampaio did award two penalties for England, the second of which was issued after a VAR review.

Jude Bellingham of England speaks to Referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)Jude Bellingham of England speaks to Referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Jude Bellingham of England speaks to Referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) | Getty Images

During the England and France match, Sampaio was joined by:

  • Assistant referee 1: Bruno Boschilia (BRA)
  • Assistant referee 2: Bruno Pires (BRA)
  • Fourth official: Mohammed Abdulla Mohammed (UAE)
  • Video Assistant Referee: Nicolas Gallo (COL)
  • Assistant Video Assistant Referee: Juan Martinez (ESP)
  • Offside Video Assistant Referee: Neuza Back (BRA)
  • Support Video Assistant Referee: Alejandro Hernandez (ESP)

What’s been said about his refereeing for the England match?

Sampaio has faced criticism for his refereeing during the England and France match, with pundit Gary Neville slamming the ref for his controversial decisions made during the game.

On ITV, Neville said: “The referee had an absolute nightmare. He was a joke of a referee. I’m not saying England’s defeat is all down to that and people might say that is an excuse, but he was just a bad referee. Rank bad.”

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Neville also took to Twitter to express his frustrations, tweeting: “Ref is a joke!”

The official also received criticism from Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker, who took to Twitter to say: “One of these days, just once, we might get a decision in our favour.”

When asked about the referee, England manager Gareth 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.”

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Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England, applauds fans after the 1-2 loss during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England, applauds fans after the 1-2 loss during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Gareth Southgate, Head Coach of England, applauds fans after the 1-2 loss during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 quarter final match between England and France at Al Bayt Stadium on December 10, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Both Harry Maguire and Jude Bellingham have also been critical of Sampaio, with Maguire stating: “I can’t really explain his performance, the amount of decisions he got wrong was actually incredible. Really poor.”

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.”

England fans vented their frustrations online with the referee, with Sampianos Wikipedia page being edited at one point to read: “Wilton Pereira Sampaio is a French fan and a Brazilian football referee. He is currently under investigation for falsely not awarding a penalty to England after Harry Kane was assaulted.”

One fan tweeted: “#WiltonSampaio is possibly the worst referee in the world.”

Another wrote: “Wilton Pereira Sampaio should never referee a World Cup match again.”

“Wilton Sampaio, most corrupt referee at the World Cup… disgrace,” another tweeted.

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