Referee Wilton Sampaio who infuriated England fans vs France ‘kept on for World Cup final’

Wilton Sampaio, the controversial Brazilian referee who was heavily criticised for his performance in England’s World Cup defeat by France, has been kept on at the tournament and could even officiate the final in Qatar. 

FIFA’s decision means Sampaio could remarkably take charge of the final this Sunday, despite a host of controversial decisions in England’s 2-1 loss to France. 

Anthony Taylor also remains in contention to referee the World Cup final after surviving FIFA’s final round of cuts.  

Brazilian referee Wilton Sampaio could referee the final in Qatar after being kept on by FIFA

He failed to give Harry Kane a first-half penalty for a challenge by France's Dayot Upamecano

He failed to give Harry Kane a first-half penalty for a challenge by France’s Dayot Upamecano

Bukayo Saka was fouled in the build-up to France's opener during the quarter-final clash

Bukayo Saka was fouled in the build-up to France’s opener during the quarter-final clash

There were 36 referees at the start of the tournament, including the Premier League’s two representatives in Taylor and Michael Oliver. That number is now down to 12 as the World Cup enters its final week, with Oliver among the unlucky ones having been sent home from Qatar.

FIFA sources confirmed their final 12 to Sportsmail on Monday morning and the list includes Taylor, the 44-year-old from Wythenshawe, Manchester. Also retained is Sampaio – the Brazilian referee who was criticised for the part he played in England exiting the competition on Saturday night.

Though he awarded two penalties to England against France – one via a VAR recommendation – Sampaio was criticised for his inconsistency.

England felt there was a foul on Bukayo Saka by Dayot Upamecano in the build-up to France’s opener by Aurelien Tchouameni. Gareth Southgate’s side were also amazed that a challenge by Upamecano on Harry Kane did not result in a penalty, or even a free-kick if outside of the box.

England centre back Harry Maguire described Sampaio as ‘very poor’, adding: ‘He never gave us anything.’ Sampaio could now referee the final with Brazil having been knocked out of the World Cup.

Harry Maguire (left) described Sampaio's refereeing performance as 'very poor'

Harry Maguire (left) described Sampaio’s refereeing performance as ‘very poor’

Oliver, arguably the Premier League’s best referee, will be disappointed to be heading home. The 37-year-old from Ashington, Northumberland oversaw three World Cup games – Costa Rica 1-0 Japan, Mexico 2-1 Saudi Arabia and Croatia 1-1 Brazil – and was praised for his performances.

Taylor has overseen two games, both in the group stages – Ghana’s 3-2 win over South Korea and Croatia’s 0-0 draw with Belgium. His assistants, Gary Beswick and Adam Nunn, also remain in Qatar.

Danny Makkelie is another one of the 12 referees retained.

That comes after Sportsmail previously revealed that FIFA had privately told the Dutchman he was right to penalise Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny for his hand in the face on Argentina’s Lionel Messi, despite supporters branding it one of the worst decisions in World Cup history.

The three female referees who were breaking new ground – Stephanie Frappart of France, Salima Mukansanga of Rwanda and Yoshimi Yamashita of Japan – have not made FIFA’s final list of 12.

Sampaio could referee the final after his native Brazil were knocked out of the tournament

Sampaio could referee the final after his native Brazil were knocked out of the tournament

Anthony Taylor is also in contention to take charge of the final after England's World Cup exit

Michael Oliver has been sent home despite being praised for his performances in Qatar

Anthony Taylor (left) has stayed in Qatar but fellow Premier League ref Michael Oliver has not

Maguire was just one of many who criticised Sampaio’s display at the weekend, with players, pundits and fans all heavily critical over his decision-making.  

The 12 retained referees

Anthony Taylor (ENG)

Daniele Orsato (ITA)

Danny Makkelie (NED)

Szymon Marciniak (POL)

Abdulrahman Al-Jassim (QAT)

Muhammad Abdulla Hassan Muhammad (UAE)

Mustapha Ghorbal (ALG)

Cesar Ramos (MEX)

Ismail Elfath (USA)

Raphael Claus (BRA)

Wilton Sampaio (BRA)

Jesus Valenzuela (VEN)


Jude Bellingham, when giving his verdict on Sampaio’s performance said: ‘Not great, if I am being honest, not great. Anyone can have a bad game – players and referees – but I think he wasn’t where he should have been in terms of the level for a game like this.’ 

ITV pundit Gary Neville also described Sampaio’s performance as a ‘shocker’ in his post-match comments.

He said:  ‘The referee I think could have been better, I thought he was awful’, he said. ‘That’s not me blaming the referee for England going out, I just thought he was awful.

‘We were sat in the corner where the penalty was with Kane in the first half, there were three or four fouls in that area of the touch first half and I thought, how’s that not been given a foul? It was weird.’

‘Even the penalty given against [Theo] Hernandez wasn’t given on the pitch, Neville continued. ‘And don’t overthink that, it was a blatant foul.

‘It’s a double mistake – the full back has lost his man and then barges him in the back. You see defenders ease players out – this wasn’t that, it was a barge in the back of a player. The referee was so bad. The first goal was harsh.’

It wasn’t the first game that Sampaio came under scrutiny in Qatar after he gave Saudi Arabia a controversial penalty in their 2-0 defeat to Poland. 

He used the pitchside monitor to penalise a challenge by Poland’s Krystian Bielik on Saudi forward Saleh Al-Shehri, despite minimal contact shown on the replays.

At the last World Cup in Russia, he was part of the refereeing team that helped introduce VAR to the tournament.

His two other games at the 2022 tournament were both victories for Holland – against Senegal and the United States.