England's semi-final referee served six-month match-fixing ban

By John Mercury July 9, 2024

The German referee for England’s Euros 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands was served a six-month ban for his role in a match-fixing scandal in 2005.

Felix Zwayer, who will lead an all-German officiating team on Wednesday, also has a history with England star Jude Bellingham.

The footballer received a fine of €40,000 (£33,970) from the German FA for his post-match comments about Zwayer in 2021, Sky Sports News said.

The midfielder’s Borussia Dortmund team lost 3-2 to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga in December 2021 – a match that Zwayer was working.

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Soccer Football - Euro 2024 - England Training - Blankenhain, Germany - July 5, 2024 England's Jude Bellingham with Harry Kane and teammates during training REUTERS/John Sibley
Jude Bellingham (L) involved in England training in Germany. File pic: Reuters

After the game, Bellingham told ViaPlay: “You give a referee that has match-fixed before the biggest game in Germany – what do you expect?

“For me, it wasn’t [a penalty]. He [Dortmund’s Mats Hummels] is not even looking at the ball and he’s fighting to get it and it hits him. You can look at a lot of the decisions in the game.”

The England international’s statement amounted to “unsportsmanlike conduct”, the German FA decided.

England left-back Luke Shaw said in a news conference on Monday that Bellingham’s past with Zwayer will not affect the team on Wednesday night.

He added: “I think we have to respect UEFA on whoever they decide to pick as the ref. That won’t change anything about us, we still focus on the game in hand.”

Zwayer, 43, will lead an all-German officiating team in Dortmund for the clash between England and the Netherlands, his second tournament match involving the Dutch, having also refereed their last-16 victory over Romania.

He also took charge of Italy’s opening match against Albania and Portugal’s win over Turkey in the second round of group matches.

Jude Bellingham's 95th-minute overhead kick averted a humiliating exit from the tournament. Pic PA
Jude Bellingham’s 95th-minute overhead kick against Slovakia averted a humiliating exit from the tournament. Pic PA

In the corruption case, Zwayer admitted taking money from Robert Hoyzer, a fellow referee who had previously been banned for allegedly being involved in match-fixing, four years before he started refereeing Bundesliga matches.

Defending his decisions following Bellingham’s comments, Zwayer – who subsequently took a two-month break from refereeing – told Sky Germany: “The situation was a standard corner kick.

“I see in the game that it’s about a touch by Hummels. The question for me was: Is the arm stretched away from the body or not? In real-time, it was not clear whether his arm was moved towards the ball.”

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He added: “I checked it with [VAR officials] in Cologne and then the arm position was checked.”

Bellingham has played in all of England’s five matches so far in Germany, but the team has been accused of failing to live up to its reputation.

The footballer has scored twice in open play and converted a penalty against Switzerland in Saturday’s quarter-final.

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‘I believe England will win the Euros’

He was named player of the year in La Liga after helping Real Madrid win the title and the Champions League in his first season in Spain.

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He was cleared to play against Switzerland on Saturday after being accused of a potential breach of the “basic rules of decent conduct” after scoring during England’s last-16 win over Slovakia.

Bellingham gestured with his hand near his crotch after scoring an overhead kick with just 80 seconds remaining to keep England’s hopes alive.


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