Who is referee for England vs Netherlands & what has Jude Bellingham said about him | Football


Engalnd star Jude Bellingham and Euro 2024 referee Felix Zwayer have history (Photo: Getty)

Felix Zwayer will be the referee for England’s Euro 2024 semi-final against Netherlands – a decision mired in controversy.

UEFA have confirmed that the 43-year-old will take charge of Wednesday night’s clash in Dortmund, assisted by compatriots Stefan Lupp and Marco Achmuller as part of an all-German officiating team.

His selection has raised more than a few eyebrows given that Zwayer was once banned for match-fixing and more notably has history with Three Lions star Jude Bellingham.

So what is all the fuss about exactly. Here’s the saga so far:

Who is Felix Zwayer and what was his match fixing scandal?

Zwayer began his refereeing career in 2004 but just a year later he was banned from officiating for six months.

He was found to have accepted a £250 bribe from fellow referee Robert Hoyzer to help fix the result of a 2. Bundesliga match between Rot-Weiss Essen and Cologne.

The suspension was kept quiet for several years until German newspaper Zeit broke the story and also found that Zwayer failed to report the incident, though he later contributed to the investigation and was not found to have made any intentional errors during the game in question.

The German has handed out 13 yellow cards in three Euro 2024 games (Picture: Getty)

Zwayer has refereed in the Bundesliga since 2009 and was in charge for last year’s Nations League final between Spain and Croatia.

Prior to the semi-final, he has officiated three games at Euro 2024, Italy’s 2-1 win against Albania, Turkey’s 3-0 loss to Portugal (both in the group stage), and the Netherlands’ 3-0 win over Romania in the last 16.

In these three matches he has handed out 13 yellow cards.

What has Jude Bellingham said about him?

After a huge top-of-the-table Bundesliga clash between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in December 2021, England star Bellingham used the historic match-fixing offence as a stick to beat Zwayer.

Bellingham and Zwayer clashed three years ago (Photo: Getty)

The Real Madrid midfielder, then of Dortmund, was furious that Bayern Munich were awarded a penalty during the 3-2 defeat as Mats Hummels was ruled to have handled in the box.

In a post-match TV interview, the then 18-year-old 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 (£33,843) and even investigated by German police, while Zwayer took a two-month break from officiating.

Dortmund supported Bellingham, with sporting director Michael Zorc saying: ‘It was a very emotional situation, he was very disappointed and only named known facts.’  

The club’s executive Hans-Joachim Watzke added: ‘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.’

It is because of this incident that the decision to award the semi-final to Zwayer was met with surprise and concern, especially with Bellingham being one of England’s integral players.

According to MailSport, UEFA did conduct a review but are understood to be satisfied with their original appointment, but Jan Age Fjortoft, the reporter who conducted the interview with Bellingham, said: ‘I am not sure what UEFA are thinking by putting Zwayer on the England game.’

Is Gareth Southgate concerned about Zwayer? (Photo: Getty)

What has Gareth Southgate said about him?

England manager Gareth Southgate was unsurprisingly asked about the situation in his press conference ahead of the semi-final.

Quizzed whether he had any concerns or if he had spoken to Bellingham about Zwayer, Southgate told reporters: ‘No. I think everybody knows how I deal with referees: with complete respect for every referee.

‘I know the two guys at UEFA, Roberto [Rosetti] and Bjorn [Kuipers], who have been running the referees programme, and I think they appreciate the respect we have shown as a team to officials over eight years.

‘I think there is a right way to conduct yourself towards officials. I think that’s very important for the image of the game.’

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