It was a tough round of officiating for the men in charge during the World Cup quarter-finals, as players voiced frustration and anger at decisions and referee appointments. Portuguese stars like Bruno Fernandez and Pepe questioned why an Argentinian referee took charge of their 1-0 loss to Morocco, while Harry Maguire’s fury at Brazil’s Wilton Sampaio was clear in England’s 2-1 defeat to France. But were the match officials to blame, or do the laws need a review?
Referee Wilton Sampaio has been handed the chance to take charge of the World Cup final, despite being widely slammed for his performance during England’s defeat to France.
Sampaio has come under fire for several decisions he made during the quarter-final clash, which led to England crashing out. Many pundits believe he should have awarded a free-kick to the Three Lions in the build-up to Aurelien Tchouameni’s opener for a foul on Bukayo Saka.
He then failed to award a penalty when Harry Kane was taken down by Dayot Upamencano and require VAR to give England a spot-kick when Theo Hernandez barged into Mason Mount just after Olivier Giroud had put France back in front.
The Brazilian will battle the likes of Anthony Taylor for the honour of taking charge of football’s biggest game. The fact he has been kept on will be a surprise to many, not least England star Harry Maguire, who slammed Sampaio for his performance on Saturday.
“Big decisions went against us, a lot of decisions went against us, should I say. I think the referee’s decision-making throughout the game was really poor. We always stand here and as players we get criticised,” he told BBC Sport.
“So it would be nice to see if he comes out and says whether he’s had a good game or not. Because there were so many decisions in that first half where they made five, six early fouls. I think H [Harry Kane] was outside the box but it was a clear foul.
“He didn’t in the second half, Bukayo’s is a clear foul leading up to their first goal. Big moments, big decisions, you expect to get some right but unfortunately tonight we didn’t get any.”
Former England international Gary Neville was also highly critical of the Brazilian official. The Manchester United legend took aim at a number of decisions which Sampaio got wrong in his view.
“I thought he was awful. That is not me blaming the referee for England being out, by the way, I just thought he was absolutely awful. I don’t actually say that anymore. I used to when I played. But it is rare now,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“I thought he was a shocker. We were sat right there 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 area of the pitch in the first half where you were thinking, ‘How has that not been given?’. It was weird.
“Even the penalty that was given against Theo Hernandez was not given on the pitch. Don’t overthink that. It was a blatant foul, that. The referee was so bad.