Bellingham certain to be sent off in semi-final as UEFA ‘provoke’ England star despite Daily Mail ‘challenge’

Editor F365
England star Jude Bellingham and his balls
England star Jude Bellingham and his balls

It is weird that UEFA have appointed Felix Zwayer for England’s Euros semi-final. Stranger still is pretending that Jude Bellingham has been ‘provoked’.


And I will try to fix you
The appointment of Felix Zwayer as referee for the Euro 2024 semi-final between England and Netherlands is curious, newsworthy and only made more relevant by his past with Jude Bellingham. That much is inarguable.

Also up for no debate is that English newspapers were always going to unnecessarily lose their entire collective minds about this whole avoidable mess.

Zwayer was involved in a match-fixing scandal in 2005. He was offered a bribe by an older referee and was found to have neither refused it nor properly reported it. He maintains that it did not influence him and an investigation found no proof of his decisions as an assistant referee altering the course of the game in question. He was part of the group who reported referee Robert Hoyzer – who was subsequently banned for life – to the German Football Association. Zwayer served a six-month suspension.

He has also been a FIFA-listed official since 2012, taking charge of matches in the Champions League, Europa League, the most recent Nations League and Conference League finals and three previous games at Euro 2024. Zwayer has refereed domestic finals and fixtures involving Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid, as well as Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham. He was a VAR at the 2018 World Cup. His past has clearly not been a problem.

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But nearly two decades of rehabilitating his image and working towards the top of his profession has obviously just been a ploy to scupper England in a major tournament semi-final. He has quite foolishly been rumbled just as everything has fallen into place.

‘ALARM BELLS’ screams the Daily Star back page, with a standfirst of ‘Jude set for new showdown with German match-fix ref’.

Something tells Mediawatch Zwayer’s nationality might not have been deemed pertinent if he was Italian or Belgian, for example.

Bellingham is ‘on a collision course’ with Zwayer according to Jeremy Cross, who should probably just stick to trying to get Gary Lineker to notice him.

The Daily Telegraph even indulge, with Mike McGrath writing that Bellingham ‘will go face-to-face with the referee he accused of “match-fixing”‘. There is every chance they won’t even really interact all that much, and zero chance anything will actually happen beyond typical exchanges between a player and referee.

It feels like Bellingham might have more important matters on his mind than a ‘new showdown’ or going ‘face-to-face’ with an official he criticised three years ago as a teenager in the heat of defeat. Like trying to inspire England into a tournament final.

And then there is the Daily Mail, which bellows: ‘ENGLAND REFEREE IS A MATCH-FIXER’.

It is fairly standard stuff from Mike Keegan but this is great:

‘Mail Sport has contacted UEFA for comment and challenged them to explain why, given Zwayer’s background, he was selected for tomorrow’s fixture.

‘UEFA declined to comment but it is understood they have ‘total confidence’ in him to referee the game impartially and will stand by the appointment.’

Poor UEFA know what the wrath of the Daily Mail feels like now – they are (sort of) BACKING ENGLAND after all. But how surprising they did not admit that Zwayer has been appointed specifically to f*** Gareth Southgate and his players over, even when ‘challenged’ by Mike Keegan and his cylinders of joy.


Attack of the cojones
That coverage on the situation pales in comparison to this from the MailOnline:

‘Moment Jude Bellingham launched astonishing attack on ‘match fixer’ referee Felix Zwayer three years ago – as German official faces England fans’ fury in Netherlands Euros semi-final’

The ‘astonishing attack’ which Bellingham ‘launched’ is quoted in full: “You know, you can look at a lot of the decisions in the game. You know, you give a referee that’s, you know, match-fixed before, the biggest game in Germany. What do you expect?”

Brutal. Surprised Zwayer has recovered sufficiently to even function properly again, never mind work towards a European Championship semi-final.

‘Bellingham, 21, is known for his passion on the pitch and some fans will worry Zwayer’s presence could serve to provoke him.’

He is a grown man. If he is ‘provoked’ by the mere presence of a referee he once called out for match-fixing then he deserves to be sent off. And are these ‘worrying’ fans the same ones who imagined a scenario whereby Bellingham taunted the Slovakia bench for no apparent reason in the last 16?


Know when to fold ’em
In the Daily Mail, it is Trent Alexander-Arnold receiving all of the flowers from Ollie Holt. Quite right, too. What a sodding penalty that was.

‘When Southgate abandoned the experiment of playing him in midfield midway through the second group game against Denmark, it felt as if his part in the tournament might have come to an end.’

Not especially. It might have felt as though his part in the tournament as a central midfielder might have come to an end after starting the first two group games in that position. But there was nothing to suggest he would not play again at all.

‘In his position, turned into a scapegoat, many might fold. Many might catastrophise or harbour resentment or retreat within themselves. Alexander-Arnold typified the resilience in this England team by taking a different path.’

He literally came on as a substitute in the next game. Was he supposed to ‘fold’ at some point in the five days in between? Alexander-Arnold has lost two Champions League finals, missed out on Premier League titles by the slimmest of margins, had his defensive acumen routinely scrutinised for years and faced a great deal of adversity before, specifically with the England national team. But being replaced at half-time by Conor Gallagher could have tipped him over the edge?

Actually, when you put it like that…

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There’s a strawman…
Elsewhere in his article, Holt also continues a proud newspaper writer trend which has emerged this summer:

‘But this England team are different. They are still here, still fighting, still provoking the ire of fans at home who seem to be expecting Gareth Southgate’s side to play like Brazil at the 1982 World Cup.’

England fans truly are apoplectic at the prospect of another tournament semi-final. And they absolutely want to see their country ‘play like Brazil at the 1982 World Cup’, rather than just seeing them play slightly better than they have done so far.

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