Jude Bellingham’s Beef With Match-Fixing Ref Resurfaces as He’s Picked to Officiate EUROs Semi-Final

  • German Felix Zwayer served a six-month ban for accepting a £300 ($384) bribe in 2005
  • Soccer pundits agreed appointing Zwayer for England vs Netherlands “was not a good look”
  • Ex-referee said “Zwayer is a lucky man to be given the opportunity to referee such a big game”
Jude Bellingham
Controversy reigns after UEFA’s decision to use a referee with a match-fixing past to officiate England vs Netherlands at the Euros. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Claims resurface

Historic match-fixing claims made by England’s star midfielder Jude Bellingham about match official Felix Zwayer have resurfaced. They come with added spice after UEFA appointed the German to referee the England v Netherlands European Football Championships (EUROs) semi-final on Wednesday.

ESPN FC took to X on Monday to report on the growing controversy around UEFA’s appointment of Zwayer for the pivotal Euros clash in Dortmund, Germany. The decision was made despite Zwayer serving a six-month ban for accepting a £300 ($384) bribe in 2005:

The controversy is fueled by Bellingham publicly disputing Zwayer’s integrity in 2021, for which UEFA hit the now Real Madrid wunderkind with a significant fine of €40,000 ($51,236). Bellingham’s accusations came while he was a Borussia Dortmund player, angry at seeing his side lose 2-1 to Bayern Munich in 2021. Bellingham asked a reporter in a post-game interview: “What do you expect?” adding:

You give a referee, that has match-fixed before, the biggest game in Germany.”

While the Guardian reports UEFA has given Zwayer its full backing, given the magnitude of the England vs Netherlands clash, it comes as no surprise leading UK soccer pundits have hit out at the soccer body’s decision.  

Pundits question decision

The UK’s foremost trio of soccer pundits, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, and Micah Richards, used their podcast to question UEFA’s choice of match official for the EUROs last-four match-up. Former England striker Lineker pointed out the previous beef between Bellingham and Zwayer, and asked: “I just wonder how UEFA have managed to come up with that?”

Three Lions scoring legend Shearer expressed his amazement at the decision he said would get tongues wagging, stating: “Wow. How to get people talking before a game then.”

Both were in agreement with ex-Manchester City defensive stalwart Richards’ take, that Zwayer officiating the high-pressure game “was not a good look,” adding:

It’s just not needed, is it?”

According to the Guardian, UEFA has “no concerns about Zwayer’s suitability to oversee the game.” The UK daily said the English Football Association declined any comment on the German’s appointment.

Into the pressure-cooker

Former English Premier League match official Keith Hackett said, given the referee’s match-fixing past: “Zwayer is a lucky man to be given the opportunity to referee such a big game.”

Hackett, who was also the head of EPL referees, said the German’s past meant he risked getting confronted by it “after any subjective or controversial decision.” The ex-head of refs warned reminders of Zwayer’s previous could resurface once more “if his performance is the talk of the game on Wednesday night.”

other referees would have deserved it more.”

Former Bundesliga and FIFA official Manuel Grafe criticized UEFA’s decision to use Zwayer for the Euros as far back as the Italy vs Albania match-up. Talking of a “great shame” for German refereeing after Zwayer’s officiating of the game, Grafe said “other referees would have deserved it more.”

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