England-Netherlands Euro 2024 ref, Felix Zwayer, was once banned for match-fixing

A referee with a controversial past has been appointed to officiate England’s Euro 2024 semifinal with the Netherlands on Wednesday. 

Felix Zwayer will referee the international match with a trip to the tournament championship on the line, despite a ban nearly 20 years ago for taking a bribe from a fellow official, Robert Hoyzer. 

The soccer ref was banned for six months in 2005 for taking a $325 bribe to call a 2004 match between German club Wuppertaler SV and Werder Bremen Amateure in favor of Wuppertaler SV. 

Felix Zwayer was banned for match-fixing in 2005.
Felix Zwayer was banned for match-fixing in 2005. AFP via Getty Images

The details of Zwayer’s suspension had not been publicly known until last year when it was reported by a German newspaper, the Daily Mail reported. 

While the decision raises some eyebrows, it will be the second match that Zwayer has officiated in this year’s tournament — having served as the ref for the Netherlands’ 3-0 win over Romania in the Round of 16. 

But questions of the comfortability of England over the decision to allow Zwayer to referee stems beyond just the bribery scandal, but also from comments made in 2021 by English footballer Jude Bellingham. 

Bellingham seemed to question Zwayer’s integrity following a Bundesliga match where Borussia Dortmund fell to Bayern Munich. 

Felix Zwayer hands out a yellow card in a Euro 2024 match.
Felix Zwayer hands out a yellow card in a Euro 2024 match. AFP via Getty Images

“You can look at a lot of the decisions in the game,” Bellingham said at the time, according to ESPN. “You give a referee, that has match-fixed before, the biggest game in Germany. What do you expect?”

The comment cost Bellingham €40,000. 

But on Monday, there didn’t seem to be any concern expressed by England defender Luke Shaw when he spoke at a press conference on Monday. 

“No, not at all,” Shaw told reporters. “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.”


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