Gary Neville lashed out at the referee as England crashed out of the World Cup against France, calling him a “joke” and “bad”.
Wilton Sampaio’s decision-making was in the spotlight when Bukayo Saka was caught by Deyot Upamecano in the build-up to Aurelien Chouameni’s goal for France.
The French defender was involved again later in the half, seemingly fouling Harry Kane when he went inside the box on the right, but VAR failed to intervene, possibly deeming the contact offside.
England finally got a penalty when Saka fouled Chuameni before VAR had to step in to award a second foul on Mason Mount, although Kane converted the decisive penalty.
Neville said of the referee: “He was an absolute nightmare. A joke of a referee. I’m not saying it was all about England losing – people will say it’s an excuse – but he’s just a bad referee, he’s bad.”
Neville believed France’s first goal should have been ruled out for a foul on Sakho: “It’s a simple decision. He stuck his leg out – I’m not sure why it’s not a foul. He’s been tackled and he’s hit. It should be a free-kick. Upamecano has tried to win the ball three or four times when he can’t win the ball, to Sac, to Kane.”
Elaborating further Sky Sports newsNeville added: “I thought he was awful. By the way, I don’t blame the referee for England’s relegation, I just think he’s absolutely awful. I don’t say that anymore. I used to when I was playing. But it rarely happens now.
“I thought he was shocking. We were sitting right there in the corner where Harry Kane took the penalty in the first half. It felt like we were on top. There were three or four fouls in that area of the pitch. In the first half, when you thought, ‘How come it’s not a given?’ “It was strange.
“Even the penalty against Theo Hernandez wasn’t counted. Don’t dwell on it. It was a flagrant foul. The full-back thought he had lost his man and was going to score, so he made a double mistake by pushing him in the back.
“The referee was so bad.”
Neville on England’s missed opportunity
“You get that feeling every couple of years, every four years and you feel a little bit hungover, just a little bit low. I think everybody feels this morning when your team is out of the tournament,” Neville said. Sky Sports news on sunday morning. “I thought the performance was really good.
“Before the game I thought France were favourites, I thought they were the better team, but I think as the game went on we matched them.
“I thought we were better in the second half, in the first half I thought they were good in parts, we were a bit unlucky but we definitely missed an opportunity I think and that’s not harsh.
“I think that’s how the players and Gareth will feel with the work that goes into getting to this stage of the tournament, the hoops you have to jump through and knowing it only happens every four years and seeing who was in that tournament. ahead of them in the semi-finals.
“Morocco have done brilliantly and they will be very tough opposition but then you think England v Morocco in the semi-final of the World Cup and again the opportunity doesn’t get any better than that.
“I think those guys are going to be sick this morning, they’re going to feel gutted. I look at some guys last night, like Jordan Henderson at his age doing the interview, in the back of his mind, he’s going to be thinking, ‘Am I going to go here again? Will I come to the World Cup again?”.
“Kyle Walker, who had a great game against Kylian Mbappe, that’s what comes to my mind this morning because I’ve been there in 2006. That’s how I feel this morning.
“They did really well, the times I’ve gone from tournaments in the past we haven’t always glorified ourselves with the performance, I think tonight’s performance was really good. It was just the very fine lines, the little details.
“Obviously a penalty which Harry missed as well and gutted him but those are the things that happen in a football match but overall I thought it was a fantastic performance in a really top level game against an opponent who had a lot of class.
“There’s nothing worse than coming out of a football game thinking you’re underdogs and you deserve to lose and you’re no match for the opposition and you’re a bit of a cheat really, and sometimes I thought that was England.
“That didn’t happen last night, we looked to dominate the French for a lot of that second half and we were beaten ourselves by a great performance from Griezmann, whose ball was brilliant in the box.”
Neville for England, who are competing technically at the moment
“The players we have can take it forward and those who compete in the next tournament will be able to take that belief that we can compete with these countries.
“At Euro 96 we might have struggled against Germany, but in 2004 and 2006 we were standing on the edge of our pitch hoping they wouldn’t concede a goal, that we’d go to penalties or score a goal. That’s not the way to dominate and win in the football tournament and win the trophy.
“Last night England will feel it was a huge missed opportunity. I think this morning more than last night, just because that moment was now and you just don’t know when they’re going to come again.
“I think four years ago when we played against Croatia, but these guys have put us in situations like this time and time again, and there’s been something that just can’t overcome us. But I feel like the right things are happening on the field.
“We have a technical ability that is growing and a confidence that is growing. In the past, of course, there have been autopsies about exits and defeats, this morning I don’t feel like that, I feel a missed opportunity, I feel the guys will be really down, but not where they’ll think they’ve been inferior, which hasn’t always been the case.
“There will be people this morning and the next few days who will start to turn the screw a little bit and say that we have to win these matches, we shouldn’t settle for playing well and losing and pretending that everything is fine. And I understand that a little bit, and you can take this harsh approach if you want, no problem.
“I just look at the performance and I think it’s the margin that decides football matches and that’s what happened last night. Last night was a moment where you felt they were there to take it and we didn’t go and take it and they got a goal to be honest in the period after what may happen.
“There was an element where I thought keep grabbing it and we grabbed it and started to get the game going, but you have to get over the line, you just have to for the best teams, the ones I remember, get over the line.
“But I still feel like it’s an evolution, it’s part of the journey. I thought we played well, it was a game we could always lose. We all probably thought they were favorites and they would probably win with for six games. out of 10 games if we played them.”
Bellingham and Maguire slam judge: ‘Really bad’ – ‘Not up to par’
England’s Jude Bellingham also said after the game that referee Sampaio was “not at the level” expected for such a big event.
Asked about the officer’s performance, Bellingham said ITV: “Not great, not great to be honest. Anyone can have a bad game, the players and the referees. I think he wasn’t where he needed to be today for the level it takes to play like that.
“But there’s more to why we lost, it’s definitely not me putting everything on him, we were the ones who played the game, but yeah, I don’t think he was up to par tonight.
“I think there were a few [fouls] We are deadly from set pieces in the first half and I think any one of them can make a difference.
Harry Maguire also told BBC: “Really bad, really bad. From the first minute, there were five, six fouls in the first 15 minutes, not one yellow card. It’s the mistake for the first goal that led to Bukayo.
“I can’t really explain how bad his performance was. I don’t want to go into too much because I’ll end up getting fined. But even though the big decisions were wrong, he never gave us anything. He was really poor in the game.”
But manager Gareth Southgate stopped short of criticizing Sampaio, saying: “We’ve lost the game. I’m not thinking about the referees. France are a fantastic team with fantastic players. Didier has done a fantastic job. Congratulations to them. I don’t think it’s right to talk about the officials, especially if you lose
Analysis: The performance of the referee is scrutinized
Sky Sports News Kaveh Solhekol in Qatar:
“England fans were not happy with the referee from the start.
“For France’s first goal, Saka appeared to be clearly fouled. For the second penalty, Theo Hernandez should have been red-carded because he didn’t try to get the ball.
“And everyone sitting around me couldn’t believe that Griezmann didn’t get a red card. How many fouls did he commit?
“And why did the referee have to use VAR so often? Some decisions should have been clear.
“And why was a referee from Brazil officiating this game? I suppose he hasn’t taken charge of many games with French and English players.
“I thought the referee’s performance was questionable.”