Euro 2024 Semi-Final Ref Once Accepted Cash from Notorious Match Fixer

Posted on: July 9, 2024, 04:33h. 

Last updated on: July 9, 2024, 04:33h.

UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, is standing by its decision to place a referee once banned for his role in a match-fixing scandal in charge of Wednesday’s Euro 2024 semi-final between England and the Netherlands.

Felix Zwayer, match-fixing, Euro 2024, semi-final, Jude Bellingham, Robert Hoyzer
Felix Zwayer, above, was investigated by the German Football Association, which found no evidence that he had manipulated a 2004 game where he served as linesman. Meanwhile, he has an awkward history with England star Jude Bellingham. (Image: Getty)

Felix Zwayer was banned from soccer for six months as a result of the scandal, which happened two decades ago in his native Germany.

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

Bellingham Beef

However, the DFB could find no evidence that Zwayer had directly manipulated the game. His punishment was lenient because of his contribution to the investigation of the case. He was one of a group of whistleblowers – pun intended – who approached the DFB with concerns about Hoyzer in late 2004.

That Zwayer accepted money from Hoyzer was hidden from public knowledge until a decade later when German newspaper Der Zeit published an exposé.

Wednesday’s match may be particularly awkward given the history between Zwayer and England’s talismanic midfielder Jude Bellingham.

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

The DFB fined the player €40K for the remark.

Zwayer will be hoping the tomorrow’s game passes without any such controversy. Make a decision that leaves England aggrieved and he will undoubtedly face the wrath of the British tabloids.

What Happened to Hoyzer?

Hoyzer fell under suspicion after officiating a match between the Bundesliga’s Hamburg and non-league minnows Paderborn in August 2004 in the first round of the German Cup. Few gave Paderborn a chance, but the team ran out an unlikely winner after Hoyzer awarded it two phantom penalties and sent off Hamburg’s Belgian forward Emile Mpenza.

When suspicious betting patterns were reported, authorities launched a criminal investigation. Hoyzer admitted he had manipulated several games on behalf of a Croatian gambling syndicate operated by three brothers, Ante Sapina, Milan Sapina, and Filip Sapina. The brothers won €500K from betting on the Paderborn game alone.

Hoyzer was sentenced to two years and five months in prison and banned for soccer for life.