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Referee criticized by Bellingham will oversee England's semifinal


DORTMUND, Germany (AP) — The referee for England's semifinal against the Netherlands at the European Championship will be Felix Zwayer, who once had ties to a match-fixing scandal in Germany.

Wednesday's game will be Zwayer's fourth of Euro 2024 and his second with the Netherlands after refereeing its 3-0 win over Romania in the round of 16.

UEFA and the German soccer federation announced the appointment Monday.

England midfielder Jude Bellingham was fined 40,000 euros ($43,400) while playing for Borussia Dortmund in 2021 for criticizing the appointment of Zwayer.

As a young assistant referee, Zwayer received a six-month ban in 2006 over an allegation that he received money from another referee, Robert Hoyzer, who was banned for match-fixing.

A ruling in the case, which was eventually published in 2014 by German newspaper Die Zeit, stated that Zwayer accepted 300 euros ($325) from Hoyzer ahead of a game in 2004 and had not immediately reported the incident, but said there was no evidence Zwayer manipulated a game and that he eventually provided crucial evidence.

After Zwayer oversaw a close 3-2 loss for Dortmund to Bayern Munich in December 2021, Bellingham told Norwegian broadcaster Viaplay: “You give a referee that’s, you know, match-fixed before, the biggest game in Germany, what do you expect?”

Zwayer told German broadcaster Sky the following month that he received “unbelievable” emailed messages and Berlin police informed him of a death threat made against him online. He denied ever having been told of plans to manipulate games or having received money from Hoyzer to do so.

Zwayer hasn't been appointed to any Dortmund games since then but will be back at the same stadium which hosts England's game against the Netherlands.

England defender Luke Shaw dismissed a suggestion that Zwayer's appointment might cause an uncomfortable situation for his team.

“No, not at all. We have to respect UEFA on 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. So for us, it won’t make any difference,” Shaw said.

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

Slovenian referee Slavko Vincic is overseeing Tuesday's semifinal between Spain and France.


AP Euro 2024: