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England vs Netherlands Euro 2024 semi-final referee Felix Zwayer controversy explained

Referee Felix Zwayer during the EURO 2024 round of 16 match between Romania and Netherlands.
-Credit: (Image: Alex Caparros - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)


Gareth Southgate has brushed off concerns regarding Felix Zwayer's appointment as the referee for the Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands, stating it was "not even a consideration."

The German official previously clashed with Jude Bellingham during a match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich three years ago. At the time, the midfielder, who was playing for Dortmund, criticised Zwayer by saying: "You give a referee that has match-fixed before, the biggest game in Germany? What do you expect? ".

Bellingham faced a £34,000 fine for his comments, while the referee took a two-month break following the controversy. Back in 2005, was suspended for six months due to his involvement in a match-fixing scandal, after accepting a bribe from another referee, Robert Hoyzer.

Despite the past issues, UEFA has shown confidence in Zwayer by assigning him the high-profile England match, which is being played in Dortmund, standing firm against any backlash. UEFA considers the 43 year old Zwayer among their elite referees, which they cite as the reason for his selection for the fixture against the Netherlands.

Southgate, focusing on the upcoming challenge, gave his response to the appointment: "I think everyone who knows me knows I deal with referees with complete respect," he said in his pre-match press conference. "I know UEFA appreciate the respect we have shown referees over eight years.

"There is a right way to conduct yourself towards officials. I am not concerned who the referee is. He will be at a very high standard because that is what UEFA demand."

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A similar stance was taken by left-back Luke Shaw, who added: "We have to respect UEFA on whoever they decide to pick as ref. That won't change anything for us, we just focus on the game at hand and not focus on the refs we are given."