Euro 2024 Ref Once Accepted Cash from Match Fixer

Felix Zwayer

UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, is defending its decision to appoint a referee previously banned for his involvement in a match-fixing scandal to officiate Wednesday’s Euro 2024 semi-final between England and the Netherlands.

Felix Zwayer was suspended from soccer for six months due to his role in a scandal that occurred two decades ago in Germany.

A German Football Association (DFB) investigation revealed that Zwayer had received €300 from notorious match-fixer and former referee Robert Hoyzer to “avoid critical situations” for one team in a May 2004 German Cup game. Zwayer was the linesman for the match between SV Wuppertal and Werder Bremen, while Hoyzer was the main referee.

Bellingham Controversy

However, the DFB found no evidence that Zwayer directly manipulated the game. His punishment was mitigated due to his cooperation with the investigation, as he was among the whistleblowers who reported concerns about Hoyzer to the DFB in late 2004.

Zwayer’s acceptance of money from Hoyzer remained hidden until a decade later when German newspaper Der Zeit published an exposé.

In 2021, Bellingham criticized Zwayer’s officiating after a game between his team, Borussia Dortmund, and Bayern Munich, saying, “If you give a referee, who has, you know, match-fixed before, the biggest game in Germany, what do you expect?”

Zwayer will be hoping tomorrow’s game passes without controversy. Any decision that leaves England feeling aggrieved will likely provoke a strong reaction from the British tabloids.

The Fate of Hoyzer

Paderborn, a heavy underdog, won after Hoyzer awarded two dubious penalties and sent off Hamburg’s forward Emile Mpenza.

Suspicious betting patterns led to a criminal investigation. Hoyzer admitted to manipulating several games for a Croatian gambling syndicate run by brothers Ante, Milan, and Filip Sapina, who won €500,000 from betting on the Paderborn game alone.

Hoyzer was sentenced to two years and five months in prison and received a lifetime ban from soccer.

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