With England hoping to secure their biggest World Cup win for 56 years, tensions were bound to be high in England’s quarter-final clash against France at Al Bayt Stadium.
A number of key decisions by referees, mainly Wilton Sampaio, the Brazilian referee, also dictated the narrative, with England players and supporters not his biggest fans, especially after first-half penalty appeals following a challenge on Harry Kane, were denied.
Telegraph Sport took a closer look at Sampaio the man at center as England went out in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Who is Wilton Sampaio?
Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio was given charge of England’s quarter-final against France on Saturday despite a controversial penalty awarded to Saudi Arabia at the start of the World Cup.
Sampaio, 40, used Education City’s pitchside monitor to penalize a challenge by Poland’s Krystian Bielik against Saudi striker Saleh Al-Shehri, despite minimal contact shown in replays.
He was also criticized by pundits in Saudi Arabia for failing to give Matty Cash a second yellow card after giving him an early booking in the 16th minute of the match, with Poland winning 2-0 en route to the knockout stages direct.
What did England say about him after the game?
When asked about the referee’s performance, Southgate said on ITV: “There’s no point in going into this subject further. I’d rather talk about our players. Congratulations to France. They know they played an incredible game. I really don’t know I think we could have done more.” .
Maguire and Bellingham have been more open with their criticisms of her performance.
Maguire said on ITV: “I really can’t explain his performance, the amount of decisions he got wrong was really unbelievable. Really poor.”
Bellingham added: “Not great. Anyone can have a bad game, players and referees, but I think it wasn’t where it should have been today in terms of the level for a game like this.”
Meanwhile ex-England player turned pundit Gary Neville was rather harsh in his criticism, saying: “I thought the referee had been having a nightmare, he was an absolutely joke referee, terrible quality.”
Did he have a history with both teams?
Sampaio had never refereed matches involving England or France.
He had officiated 381 matches in his career, handing out 1,856 yellow cards and 102 red cards. He had also previously conceded 114 penalty kicks.
What other great games had he played?
Sampaio also took charge of a high-profile Arab Cup match last year, also at Education City, when Qatar were awarded a penalty against Oman when Akram Afif scored in the box. Qatar’s goal came in the 97th minute with Var, after Sampaio had initially continued to play.
At the last World Cup four years ago in Russia, Sampaio was part of the umpiring team that helped introduce technology to the tournament. His other two matches in this World Cup were both victories for the Netherlands, against Senegal and the United States. He has given 10 yellow cards so far.
Bruno Boschilia and Bruno Pires, also from Brazil, were Sampaio’s assistants running the line at Al-Bayt Stadium, with the UAE’s Mohammed Abdulla fourth official between the two technical areas.
The Video Assistant Referee (Var) was Colombian Nicolas Gallo. He was supported by the Spaniards Juan Martinez and Alejandro Hernandez as well as the Brazilian Neuza Back.