Uefa backs semi-final referee Felix Zwayer despite Bellingham remarks

<span>This will be Felix Zwayer’s fourth match at Euro 2024.</span><span>Photograph: Leon Kuegeler/Reuters</span>
This will be Felix Zwayer’s fourth match at Euro 2024.Photograph: Leon Kuegeler/Reuters

Uefa has given its full backing to Felix Zwayer, who will officiate England’s Euro 2024 semi-final against the Netherlands as planned despite Jude Bellingham making an unproven allegation of match-fixing against the referee, which he denies, three years ago.

The governing body has no concerns about Zwayer’s suitability to oversee the game despite Bellingham describing him as “a referee that has match-fixed before” in a high-profile run-in during 2021. Bellingham referred, after a match between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in December 2021, to a case that led to the German official being banned for six months in 2006. The Guardian understands Uefa has complete confidence in Zwayer, who has been Fifa listed since 2012.

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Zwayer hit the headlines in 2014 when his punishment, which was handed down by Germany’s ­football federation (DFB) after he had worked alongside the referee Robert Hoyzer, finally came to light. Hoyzer was banned for life and Zwayer was among the officials who brought his match-fixing plot into the open, which was reflected in the relatively short ban.

According to Zwayer, he was asked by Hoyzer to fix the result of a 2. Bundesliga match between Rot-Weiss Essen and Cologne. “When I got this firm offer from Hoyzer, I went to my refereeing colleagues,” he said. “I stress once again that I strongly rejected this offer straightaway.”

He has always denied being involved in Hoyzer’s fix of a game between Wuppertal and Werder Bremen B in 2004, although a DFB investigation discovered he had accepted a payment of €300 from Hoyzer.

The Bellingham row occurred during the midfielder’s time at Dortmund, centring on a controversial decision to award Bayern a penalty from which Robert Lewandowski scored the winner. “You give a referee that has match-fixed before the biggest game in Germany, what do you expect?” asked Bellingham, referring also to other decisions during the game. Bellingham was fined €40,000 for his comments.

The Football Association has elected not to wade into any controversy surrounding Zwayer, who is regarded as an elite referee and has overseen three games at Euro 2024. Luke Shaw, asked on Monday whether he held any concerns about his enlisting, played the matter down.

We have to respect Uefa on whoever they decide to pick as ref,” the England defender said. “That won’t change anything for us, we just focus on the game at hand and not the refs we are given.”

Shaw said he had never felt that a referee might hold an agenda against him. “In the heated moment you get angry and might think that, but whoever has been picked has been picked, we just have to be ready,” he said.

Zwayer will head up an all-German team at the last-four clash in Dortmund. He will be assisted by Stefan Lupp and Marco Achmüller, and backed up by the video assistant referee Bastian Dankert.