England vs France referee kept on for rest of World Cup despite widespread criticism

Brazilian Wilton Sampaio came under fire for his performance as England were knocked out in the quarter-finals in Qatar

Alex Pattle
Monday 12 December 2022 11:15 GMT
Gutted England fans in Qatar react to World Cup knockout

Wilton Sampaio, the referee who was widely criticised for his officiating of England vs France, has been retained by Fifa for the remainder of the World Cup.

Sampaio awarded England two penalties in their quarter-final exit in Qatar, but many observers believed that the Brazilian had missed numerous other incidents throughout the game at Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor.

Bukayo Saka seemed to have been fouled in the lead-up to France’s first goal in their 2-1 win, while England captain Harry Kane also looked to have been fouled on the edge of the box shortly thereafter. Sampaio did not award a free kick in either instance.

The 40-year-old did later award England a penalty for a foul on Saka, before pointing to the spot late in the game after Mason Mount was bundled over in the France box. However, the latter foul was only given after Sampaio consulted a pitchside monitor. Kane scored the first penalty to make it 1-1, before missing the second spot-kick after Olivier Giroud had restored Les Bleus’ lead.

“Really poor, very poor,” England defender Harry Maguire said of Sampaio after the game. “From minute one: five, six fouls in the first 15 minutes, not one yellow card.

“For me, it’s a foul for the first goal, on Bukayo. I can’t really go into explaining how bad [Sampaio’s] performance really was. I don’t want to go into too much, because I’ll end up getting fined, but it was really, really poor.”

Despite criticism of Sampaio’s performance, he has been kept on by Fifa for the remaining games in Qatar. It means the Brazilian is eligible to officiate Argentina’s semi-final against Croatia on Tuesday, France’s last-four clash with Morocco on Wednesday, Saturday’s third-place play-off match, and Sunday’s final.

Meanwhile, Antonio Mateu Lahoz has not been retained by Fifa, following what many deemed a poor refereeing performance by the Spaniard during Argentina’s quarter-final against Netherlands.

Mateu Lahoz issued 18 yellow cards in that game – a World Cup record – as the match descended into chaos. Argentina captain Lionel Messi then urged Fifa to drop the official, while teammate Emiliano Martinez accused Mateu Lahoz of ‘wanting Netherlands to score’.

Antonio Mateu Lahoz (right) issued a record number of bookings during Argentina vs Netherlands
Antonio Mateu Lahoz (right) issued a record number of bookings during Argentina vs Netherlands (AFP via Getty Images)

Elsewhere, English referee Michael Oliver was also released from the tournament by Fifa ahead of the final three games. Oliver officiated Brazil’s quarter-final against Croatia, in which the Croats came from behind to take the match to penalties, where they eliminated the Selecao.

Facundo Tello, the Argentine referee who oversaw Portugal’s quarter-final loss to Morocco, has been dropped after coming under criticism from Portuguese defender Pepe.

Of the 12 remaining officials, Poland’s Syzmon Marciniak is the favourite to referee the final on Sunday. Mexican Cesar Ramos and American Ismael Elfath are the other leading contenders, though the latter cannot officiate games involving Morocco, as it is his country of birth.

Fifa referees’ chief Pierluigi Collina and his team can recommend appointments, but a committee must then approve their choices.

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