England vs Serbia referee was slammed 'one of the worst' and 'disaster' at World Cup

Referee Daniele Orsato in conversation with Lionel Messi during the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Croatia
-Credit: (Image: PA)

The referee for England's opening match at Euro 2024 was described as "a disaster" following his performance during Argentina's run to World Cup glory.

Daniele Orsato, a well-regarded Italian official, will take charge of the Three Lions' first Group C game against Serbia in Gelsenkirchen. This Euros marks Orsato's swansong in top-flight refereeing, as he is set to retire after the tournament.

He recently received an emotional send-off from club football, being honoured with a guard of honour and a standing ovation at his last Serie A match, Atalanta versus Fiorentina. Despite those plaudits, Orsato faced criticism for his handling of the World Cup semi-final between Argentina and Croatia in Qatar.

Argentina, led by Lionel Messi, sailed into the final after a 3-0 victory, with Messi starting the scoring with a penalty in the first half, followed by Julian Alvarez's double. Croatia, however, were incensed by the decision to award the spot-kick, leading to assistant coach Mario Mandzukic's dismissal from the sidelines.

Post-match, Croatia talisman and former Tottenham hero Luka Modric lambasted Orsato, calling him "one of the worst" and "a disaster".

Real Madrid's midfield maestro blasted: "Argentina were a fair winner of the match, they were better, they deserved to win, but these things have to be mentioned, I generally don't do them, but today they have to be done.

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"I don't like to talk about referees, but this is one of the worst. I don't have a good memory of [Orsato], he's a disaster. For me, it wasn't a penalty. Despite this, I don't want to detract from Argentina. The penalty killed us.

While Modric and Croatia may beg to differ, Orsato, a FIFA-listed official since 2010, is considered one of Europe's top officials, having refereed the 2020 Champions League final between PSG and Bayern Munich. More recently, he was in charge of the Champions League semi-finals second leg between PSG and Borussia Dortmund.