England given ‘absolute joke’ referee against France as FIFA punishment for ‘moaning’, says Gullit

Will Ford
Brazilian referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio

Ruud Gullit suggested that England’s “moaning” over the World Cup being held in Qatar led to FIFA putting Wilton Sampaio in charge of the quarter-final defeat to France.

Gareth Southgate’s side were beaten 2-1 by the French and Sampaio was widely criticised for his performance after the game.

The Brazilian referee missed what looked to be a clear foul on Bukayo Saka in the lead-up to France’s opener, required VAR intervention to award England’s second penalty after a blatant shove on Mason Mount, and ignored what appeared to be a trip on Harry Kane in the box.

After the game, Gary Neville said: “The referee, I thought he had an absolute nightmare. An absolute joke of a referee.

“I am not saying that was all down to England’s defeat, people will say that’s excuses, but he was just a bad referee. Rank, bad.”

And Martin Samuel, writing in his column for The Daily Mail, revealed an exchange he had with Gullit last week, in which the Dutch legend claimed (or joked) that FIFA had chosen Sampaio to referee the game as punishment for the English media’s protestations at the World Cup being hosted by Qatar.

He wrote: ‘Hurrying away from Lusail Stadium after Argentina’s win over Croatia, I bumped into Ruud Gullit. He had a big smile. “What do you think of the tournament, eh, Martin?” he asked.

‘I remembered that on the way home from Moscow in 2018, we’d had a lively discussion about Qatar. It’s fair to say he was an advocate, and I wasn’t.

‘So I said what I thought. That the football had been great. But then tournament football usually is. I hadn’t changed my mind on the location. It was a largely efficient World Cup also, but it came at too high a price.

‘He seemed disappointed. “You guys, you’re always moaning, you never learn,” he said. “That’s why you end up with a referee from South America.”

‘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.’

READ MORE: What do England need to win the World Cup? Dennis Wise and Frank Lampard, apparently

Richard Keys, who works for Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, tweeted in response: ‘This was a joke. I was with Ruud two minutes after he’d seen Sammy [Martin Samuel]. But it does make you wonder.

‘I’ve spoken of English arrogance for years. Drop the daft song and stop lecturing the world. It might help.’