‘Ref is a joke!’: England vs France referee slammed after World Cup exit

Wilton Sampaio was criticised for a number of decisions in the World Cup quarter-final at Al Bayt Stadium

Jack Rathborn
Sunday 11 December 2022 10:10 GMT
Fans sing English national anthem ahead of France quarter-final

The England vs France referee was labelled “a joke” by Gary Neville with heavy criticism coming in for Brazilian official Wilton Sampaio.

The Three Lions’ first gripe came during the first half in the build-up to the opening World Cup quarter-final goal for Les Bleus.

Bukayo Saka protested for a foul after Dayot Upamecano’s challenge, but play continued, with Aurélien Tchouaméni soon breaking the deadlock.

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

The first spot kick was dispatched by Kane before a second was blazed high over the bar, proving crucial as England were eliminated.

Olivier Giroud proved the match-winner, putting the French back in front after Kane’s equaliser, planting a powerful header past Jordan Pickford following a delightful ball by Antoine Griezmann.

But the defeat comes with extensive criticism for Sampaio, with Neville tweeting: “Ref is a joke!”

He continued on ITV after the game: “I thought he had an absolute nightmare, a joke of a referee. He was just a bad referee, rank bad.”

Jude Bellingham of England speaks to referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio
Jude Bellingham of England speaks to referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio (Getty Images)

While Gary Lineker commented: “One of these days, just once, we might get a decision in our favour.”

The criticism extended beyond former England players, with YouTuber KSI adding: “The referee has been terrible.”

Football commentator Ian Dark was especially scathing: “How did Fifa come up with that ref for a big quarter final ? He was clearly way out of his depth.”

While presenter Dan Walker said: “Can we sub the ref? He’s having a shocker!!!”

Former F1 driver Damon Hill said: “Well done guys England. You gave it everything. Had some questionable Ref decisions. But that’s how it goes. Up against a very tough team.”

And former England rugby international Andy Goode said: “How bad is this ref, he’s a disgrace on the biggest stage.”

England players argue with referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio
England players argue with referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio (AP)

Former US international and ESPN pundit Taylor Twellman said: “Did this ref win a competition to do this game?!”

And comedian Jack Whitehall detailed how the referee was merely part of a familiar story for England suffering at a tournament: “That ticked every box of England misery bingo. Joke of a ref, missed pen, winning goal from a player that was a donkey in the prem. #NotComingHome.”

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