Banned referee to officiate West Ham's quarter final tie

  • by Staff Writer
  • Thursday, 7th April 2022

The referee officiating tonight's Europa League quarter final first leg tie between West Ham United and Lyon was once suspended from football for taking an unofficial payment.

German official Felix Zwayer, now a UEFA elite category referee was sentenced in 2006 by the DFB (German Football Association) after admitting to having taken a payment from a fellow official when acting as a referee's assistant three years earlier.

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The ruling determined that Zwayer, 23 at the time had behaved in a "grossly unsporting" manner by accepting €300 from fellow referee Robert Hoyzer, who was found guilty of manipulating a series of matches in 2004 on behalf of a Croatian betting organisation.

Although no evidence was found to suggest Zwayer made any "intentionally incorrect" decisions during the match in question, a fixture between Wuppertal and Werder Bremen's reserves, he was hit with a six-month ban by the DFB after conceding he had accepted a bung.

And last season, some 15 years after Zwayer had been fined for his involvement in the racket, English teenager Jude Bellingham - who currently represents Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund - was himself fined £40,000 for suggesting the referee had acted improperly during a 3-2 defeat at home to Bayern Munich.

"If you give a referee, who's match-fixed before, the biggest game in Germany - what do you expect?" Bellingham told Norwegian broadcaster Viaplay following Die Borussen's defeat.

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Prior to Bellingham's fine, Manuel Gräfe - another former colleague of Zwayer's - questioned the validity of allowing the Berlin-born referee to continue to officiate games at that level. "If you accept money once and then cover up Hoyzer's manipulation for six months, you shouldn't be refereeing professional football," he told Zeit Magazin last summer.

Yet Zwayer, who is now 40 and works as a real estate broker continues to work on behalf of both the Bundesliga and UEFA, who have granted him the opportunity to officiate West Ham United's biggest game since the 2006 FA Cup Final at the London Olympic Stadium tonight.

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