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Why did England request referee Felix Zwayer to be replaced ahead of Euro Cup semifinals?

Why did England request referee Felix Zwayer to be replaced ahead of Euro Cup semifinals?

Felix Zwayer's controversial history dates back to 2005 when he was implicated in a match-fixing scandal. Zwayer admitted to accepting a bribe of 300 euros to influence a match

On Wednesday evening, the highly anticipated Euro 2024 semifinal clash will see the Netherlands and England face off. Controversially, England has requested a different referee from UEFA, instead of the originally appointed Felix Zwayer. The root of this request lies in past tensions between Zwayer and English midfielder Jude Bellingham.

Jude Bellingham-Felix Zwayer Incident Explained

The tension dates back to a Bundesliga match three years ago, where Borussia Dortmund, featuring Jude Bellingham, suffered a 3-2 defeat against Bayern Munich. During this match, referee Felix Zwayer awarded Bayern a controversial penalty for an alleged handball, which was highly disputed by Bellingham.

“You give the biggest match in Germany to a referee who has fixed a match before? What do you expect?” fumed Bellingham post-match. His frustration was palpable as he further stated, “The ball hits Mats (Hummels), but Mats doesn’t even look at the ball. And also look at other decisions made by the referee during the match.”

Zwayer’s Match-Fixing Past

Bellingham’s accusations were not baseless. Felix Zwayer’s controversial history dates back to 2005 when he was implicated in a match-fixing scandal. Zwayer admitted to accepting a bribe of 300 euros to influence a match in favour of Wuppertaler SV against SV Werder Bremen’s amateur team. At the time, Zwayer was an assistant referee, with Robert Hoyzer, the main referee, orchestrating the manipulation for substantial sums.

This scandal resurfaced in public consciousness due to Bellingham’s comments, leading to his fine of 40,000 euros by the DFB for his remarks. Despite this, Zwayer faced threats and mental distress, yet continued his career in officiating. Recently, he refereed the Netherlands’ 3-0 victory over Romania in the round of 16 of the European Championship.

UEFA’s Decision

Despite England’s request, reports from The Daily Mail and The Times confirm that UEFA has decided to uphold their original appointment of Zwayer for the semi-final match. This decision, made after thorough consultation, suggests that UEFA is confident in Zwayer’s ability to officiate impartially.

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