Uefa backs semi-final referee Felix Zwayer despite Bellingham remarks

Felix Zwayer

Uefa has expressed its support for Felix Zwayer, who is set to referee the England vs Netherlands Euro 2024 semi-final. This decision comes despite Jude Bellingham previously accusing the referee of match-fixing, an allegation that is unconfirmed and denied by Zwayer.

The authority in charge is not worried about Zwayer's ability to manage the game, even though Bellingham accused him of being involved in match-fixing in a well-known incident in 2021. Bellingham mentioned a situation where the German referee was suspended for six months back in 2006, after a match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in December 2021. The Guardian has learned that Uefa fully trusts Zwayer, who has been on the Fifa list since 2012.

Zwayer gained attention in 2014 when his punishment, given by Germany's football federation (DFB) for his involvement with referee Robert Hoyzer, was revealed. Hoyzer received a lifetime ban, while Zwayer was part of the group of officials who exposed his match-fixing scheme, resulting in a relatively brief suspension.

Zwayer claimed that he was approached by Hoyzer to manipulate the outcome of a 2. Bundesliga game between Rot-Weiss Essen and Cologne. He stated, "When Hoyzer made this definite proposal to me, I immediately informed my fellow referees. I want to emphasize that I immediately refused this offer with great determination."

He has consistently denied any connection to Hoyzer's manipulation of a match between Wuppertal and Werder Bremen B in 2004, despite a DFB inquiry revealing that he had received a payment of €300 from Hoyzer.

The Bellingham controversy happened when the midfielder was playing for Dortmund. It involved a disputed penalty given to Bayern, which led to Robert Lewandowski scoring the winning goal. Bellingham questioned the integrity of the referee and suggested previous match-fixing may have influenced the decision. As a result of his remarks, Bellingham was fined €40,000.

The Football Association has decided not to get involved in any drama surrounding Zwayer, who is seen as a top referee and has officiated three games at Euro 2024. Luke Shaw, when asked on Monday if he had any worries about Zwayer officiating, downplayed the issue.

"We must show respect to Uefa in regards to their choice of referee," stated the England defender. "This won't affect us in any way, as we are fully focused on the upcoming game and not on the referees assigned to us."

Shaw mentioned that he has never had the feeling that a referee may have a biased agenda against him. He added, "In the heat of the moment, you can get frustrated and maybe have that thought, but the referee selected is the referee selected, and we just need to stay prepared."

Zwayer will lead a team of all-German officials during the semifinal match in Dortmund. He will be supported by Stefan Lupp and Marco Achmüller, with video assistant referee Bastian Dankert also providing assistance.

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