The Qatar World Cup gained a reputation for some impressive, controversial-free refereeing in the group stages of the tournament. There weren’t really too many mistakes made by the referee in the initial stages, with VAR also doing their job just as intended.
But that entire reputation has turned upside-down as we move into the business end of the competition.
Almost every single one of the four quarter-finals was filled with controversies because of divisive refereeing.
Brazil referee Wilton Sampaio was given the huge duty of officiating the match. He isn’t really a referee that should be known within the English or French football fanbase.
Sampaio generally works as a referee in Brazil’s Serie A championships and was even elected as one of the competition’s best referees in 2012.
He’s been a FIFA official for over a decade now and it’s because of his sheer experience levels that the Brazilian was chosen by the federation to officiate such a high-profile game.
However, Sampaio seemingly buckled under pressure and made a number of controversial errors during the game.
One of that was not being able to notice a possible foul on Bukayo Saka seconds before Aurelien Tchouameni’s impressive opening goal. He also opted against giving England a penalty in the first half when Harry Kane was barged down inside the box.
Things didn’t really improve going into the second half. Sampaio initially did not give England their second penalty, which Kane missed, as he stated his inability to spot the clear push from Theo Hernandez on Mason Mount.
After VAR consulted him to take another look at it, the Brazilian gave the penalty but decided to only give Hernandez a yellow card – despite him making a last-man challenge to stop a possible goal-scoring opportunity.
Sampaio’s inconsistency in his decision-making and errors in the game has infuriated English football fans.
Some decided to mock him by editing his Wikipedia page after the game, changing his description to this: “Wilton Sampaio is a French fan and Brazilian football referee. He is currently under investigation for falsely not awarding a penalty to England after Harry Kane was assaulted.”
Wikipedia has a strict policy of rejecting such parody edits and were quick to fix that. However, some fans are relentless in their pursuit to ruin his reputation.
One changed his description to state that he was ‘offered a lapdance by Kylian Mbappe for his favourable decisions to France’.
Another claimed that Sampaio has ‘lost his guide dog’, implying that he is blind. Brutal.
The England fans are clearly angry at Wilton for his unimpressive officiating and inability to be consistent with his decision-making.
England defender Harry Maguire was also quick to criticize the referee after the game, as he told ITV: “I can’t really explain his performance, the amount of decisions he got wrong was actually incredible. Really poor.”
The Three Lions are widely considered to have been ‘the better team’ in the fourth quarter-final and playing the better football despite their loss.
But that really doesn’t matter at the end of the day, as France were able to get the win and maintain their charge to retain their World Cup title.