England’s World Cup quarter-final with France will be a monumental occasion for Gareth Southgate’s side.
The Three Lions are looking to end 56 years of major tournament hurt with victory at the World Cup, but know they must go through the defending champions if they are to even make the final four.
France will pose a significant threat to England – they do have Kylian Mbappe after all – but there’s always the unpredictability of the officiating and VAR team on duty. Some referees like the game to flow while others have a no-nonsense approach to unnecessary physicality – it really does depend on who you get.
For this particular game, Wilton Sampaio will be equipped with notebook, earpiece and whistle. Here’s 90min’s rundown of exactly who he is.
40-year-old Sampaio has been a FIFA-listed official since 2013 having made his name as one of the Brazilian Serie A’s top referees.
Some spectators may remember him as the official to award Saudi Arabia a controversial penalty against Poland in the group stages – a decision he made despite replays on the VAR monitor suggesting there was little to no contact made on Saleh Al-Shehri.
Sampaio is officiating at his first World Cup, with prior experience of the 2018 tournament restricted to ensuring the new-at-the-time VAR was implemented smoothly.
There’s no unfavourable history for England to draw upon with Sampaio and he is yet to officiate a game that France have competed in either.
As mentioned, Sampaio was the referee in charge of Saudi Arabia’s group stage clash with Poland. He awarded Herve Renard’s side a controversial penalty but levelled the playing field somewhat by failing to send off Aston Villa full-back Matty Cash when a second yellow card was likely warranted.
Sampaio was also the official for the Netherlands’ group stage win over Senegal, before he took charge of the Oranje’s 3-1 win over the United States in the round of 16. To this point, he has awarded 10 yellow cards.
The complete officiating team to support Sampaio for England’s clash with France is as follows: