England-Netherlands ref served match-fixing ban

UEFA has appointed a referee who previously confessed to match-fixing — and whose integrity was publicly questioned by Jude Bellingham — for England’s Euro 2024 semifinal against the Netherlands.

Felix Zwayer will officiate Wednesday’s clash in Dortmund despite being banned for six months in 2005 after taking a €300 ($325) bribe from another official, Robert Hoyzer.

A 2005 investigation found that Zwayer accepted a bribe to favour German club Wuppertaler SV in their match against Werder Bremen Amateure in May 2004.

Bellingham referred back to that incident in a postmatch interview in 2021 after Borussia Dortmund lost 3-2 to Bayern Munich in a huge Bundesliga game.

The England midfielder, who played for Dortmund at the time, said: “You can look at a lot of the decisions in the game.

“You give a referee, that has match-fixed before, the biggest game in Germany. What do you expect?”

Bellingham was subsequently fined €40,000 for his comments, which came after Dortmund were denied a penalty at one end and conceded one at the other.

Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke added at the time: “To be clear, Jude was not spreading lies, but what happened in the past. This statement shouldn’t have been, but I don’t see anything untrue there. I don’t expect that to have any consequences for Jude.”

Zwayer officiated the Netherlands’ 3-0 win over Romania in the Euro 2024 round of 16 on Tuesday.

The FA declined to comment on Zwayer’s appointment when contacted by ESPN.

England defender Luke Shaw was quick to dispel any thoughts of conspiracy when asked at a news conference Monday if the refereeing situation was uncomfortable.

“No, not at all,” the Manchester United player said. “We have to respect UEFA in whoever they decide to pick as the ref. That won’t change anything about us.

“We still just focus on the game in hand, not too much about what refs we’ve been given or this and that. For us, it won’t make any difference.”

Shaw went on to say he had never played in a game where he thought the officials were acting against his team.

“Sometimes in the heat of the moment, you get angry in games and you might think that, but no,” he said.

“Whatever ref has been picked has been picked. We just have to be ready and not focus on that.”

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