Former PL referee claims officials in England vs France game weren’t at the right ‘level’ after costly error

Joe Williams
Brazilian referee Wilton Pereira Sampaio

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher claims Wilton Pereira Sampaio wasn’t at a “level” to deal with a World Cup quarter-final between England and France.

The Brazilian referee was criticised for his handling of the Three Lions encounter against Les Bleus, in which France emerged 2-1 winners and progressed to a World Cup semi-final against Morocco.

Despite awarding England two penalties, Sampaio was still heavily criticised by supporters, pundits and players after the match.

Former England and Manchester United defender Gary Neville was particularly damning of Sampaio, calling him a “joke of a referee”.

“The French defenders’ lack of composure through the evening was startling,” Neville said on ITV Sport.

“We knew that was the weak point of the team, but we never recognised how many poor decisions they would make in those types of areas.

“The referee I thought he had an absolute nightmare, he was a joke of a referee, him.

“I’m not saying that was all down to England’s defeat, I think because people will say it’s just excuses, he was just a bad referee, rank bad.”

And now former Premier League referee Gallagher, who regularly appears on Sky Sports News to give his opinion on refereeing performances, thought Sampaio “didn’t reflect” the level of the game.

Saka appeared to be fouled in the build-up to France’s opening goal and Gallagher thinks either the referee or his assistant should’ve awarded a free-kick.

“I think it’s a foul. I don’t think there’s any doubt there’s a foul, you can see it’s a foul,” Gallagher told Sky Sports.

“If the referee doesn’t see it, the assistant has a perfect view, he’s looking straight at it and is very, very close. If the assistant flagged, everyone would have accepted that decision.

“Then the problem is there’s 25 seconds between the incident and the France goal. As we know in the Premier League, VAR would never go back that far. That’s not what VAR is there for.”

On Sampaio’s overall performance, Gallagher added: “Whether he was nervous or the occasion got to him, he [Sampaio] certainly didn’t perform how you would expect a ref at that level to perform.

“It wasn’t the level of a referee in a World Cup quarter-final. You can’t say he wasn’t at that level but I would say he didn’t produce on the day.

“During the 90 minutes, he didn’t reflect that level. The problems emanated from decisions he didn’t make rather than ones he did make.”

READ MORE: Ranking all 26 England squad members by their contribution to World Cup quarter-final HEARTBREAK