England vs France World Cup referee was ‘confused over what’s a foul’

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Wilton Sampaio, the referee who took charge of England’s World Cup quarter-final 2-1 defeat to France, has been criticised back in his native Brazil for his officiating in Qatar. The official had a controversial performance, despite awarding Gareth Southgate’s side two penalties, though captain Harry Kane skied the second as the Three Lions crashed out of the tournament.

he second spot kick was only awarded after VAR had intervened, while a host of French fouls appeared to have been overlooked including in the buildup for France’s first goal. Aurelien Tchouameni’s thunderbolt got Didier Deschamps on their way in the first half, but his side only got the ball back after a strong challenge on Bukayo Saka that had many fans calling for a foul.

England could have even been awarded a third penalty as Kane was tripped inside the area, but Brazilian referee Sampaio failed to point to the spot. BBC’s South American football expert Tim Vickery explained that the official was even called out for his performances in Brazil, and often gets confused over what a foul is.

“It’s a question of criteria,” Vickery wrote on Twitter. “When he’s in Brazil, everything is a foul. He knows this is different and tries to let things go, but he ends up confused in his own mind about what’s a foul and what isn’t. Brazilian TV going over it now. Ex refs reluctant to attack their own kind. But no doubt – he’s getting a blasting.”

There has even been a theory raised that England were appointed Sampaio as a punishment for reporting on the migrant worker deaths in Qatar during the World Cup. Daily Mail journalist Martin Samuel spoke to former Chelsea man Ruud Gullit who questioned whether Sampaio was given the game to deliberately harm England’s chances of winning the tournament.

“He seemed disappointed,” Samuel wrote regarding a conversation he had with Gullit. “‘You guys, you’re always moaning, you never learn,’ he [Gullit] said. ‘That’s why you end up with a referee from South America.’

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“And he meant it as a joke, but really? That’s the deal? England get Wilton Sampaio because its media reports on migrant worker deaths. I can’t believe that, not even of FIFA – but if it’s even a quarter true, it’s worse than we thought.”

The controversial quarter-final tie was the final game that Sampaio was awarded in Qatar as he was swiftly sent back to his homeland following France’s win.

ITV pundit and Manchester United icon Gary Neville was among the many to point out the official’s flaws after the game: “The referee I thought he had an absolute nightmare, he was a joke of a referee.” Neville said. “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.”

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