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Netherlands vs England: Gareth Southgate responds to Felix Zwayer appointment for Euro 2024 semi-final

Netherlands vs England: Gareth Southgate responds to Felix Zwayer appointment for Euro 2024 semi-final

Gareth Southgate insists he has no concerns about Felix Zwayer being placed in charge of Wednesday night’s Euro 2024 semi-final, despite the referee being embroiled in an historic match-fixing scandal - and drawing the public wrath of England star Jude Bellingham.

The appointment of Zwayer has sparked huge controversy in the build-up to the game between England and the Netherlands in Dortmund.

In 2005, the German official accepted a €300 bribe from another referee and was subsequently banned for six months, though his conviction only became public knowledge following a German newspaper investigation in 2014.

Bellingham made reference to the scandal in a post-match interview after Zwayer took charge of a fiery meeting between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich in 2021 and was subsequently hit with a €40,000 fine by the German FA.

Despite that history, though, Southgate said he had not discussed the incident with the now Real Madrid midfielder ahead of Wednesday night’s clash - and insisted he had no issue with Zwayer’s appointment.

“I think everybody knows how I deal with referees,” Southgate said. “I have complete respect for every referee.

“I think [Uefa] appreciate the respect we’ve shown as a team to officials over eight years. I think there’s a right way to conduct yourself towards officials. That’s very important for the image of the game.

Controversy: Felix Zwayer will take charge of England’s semi-final against the Netherlands (Getty Images)
Controversy: Felix Zwayer will take charge of England’s semi-final against the Netherlands (Getty Images)

“So no, I’m not concerned about who the referee is. He will be at a very high standard because that’s the way that Uefa make those decisions and the way they monitor the games that are played during the tournament. For me, it’s not even a consideration.”

Southgate was speaking at England’s pre-match press conference at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park but the Netherlands were forced to cancel their equivalent after travel chaos saw their arrival in the city delayed.

Ronald Koeman’s side had planned to take the train from their base near Wolfsburg but problems on the rail network mean they will instead fly to Dortmund late on Tuesday night. Southgate, however, dismissed the idea that the delay could give England an advantage in Wednesday’s game.

"We don’t play until 9pm tomorrow so there’s plenty of time,” the 53-year-old said. “I’m sure they’ll still get dinner when they arrive. I don’t see that having any impact on the game, really.”