Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham couldn’t hide his frustration with referee Felix Zwayer after his team’s narrow 3-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker and even publicly questioned the official’s integrity.
Bayern secured the victory when Robert Lewandowski scored a penalty in the final 15 minutes, which had been awarded following a VAR review when the ball touched Mats Hummels’ arm as he was trying to head it clear.
It had gone unnoticed in real time, but Zwayer consulted the pitch-side monitor and decided to award the spot-kick. It proved decisive and the win took Bayern four points of Dortmund in the Bundesliga table, while also condemning the latter to a seventh straight league Klassiker defeat.
Bellingham spoke to Norwegian broadcaster Viaplay immediately after the game and emotions were still running high over the contentious decision in what had been such a tight game.
“For me, it wasn’t [a penalty],” the England international began.
“[Hummels] is not even looking at the ball and he’s fighting to get it. It hits him, I don’t even think he’s looking at the ball.”
Bellingham then highlighted other moments in the game, before offering a rhetorical question as to whether people should be surprised given Zwayer’s past.
“You can look at a lot of the decisions in the game. You give a referee that has match fixed before, the biggest game in Germany, what do you expect?” Bellingham asked.
Zwayer was a witness in the 2005 German match fixing scandal that saw four referees and 14 players accused of throwing at least 10 games in the country’s lower divisions. But he also became suspected of having some involvement and, despite denying any wrongdoing, was eventually banned from officiating for six months – the suspension only became public knowledge almost a decade later when a document was published by a German newspaper.
Bellingham wasn’t the only Dortmund player unimpressed with Zwayer’s performance in Der Klassiker, with Erling Haaland commenting, “I think it was a scandal when it comes to the referee. He was arrogant and I will not say more.”