Jude Bellingham is under police investigation for a comment he made against referee Felix Zwayer following Borussia Dortmund’s 3-2 defeat against Bayern Munich.
A criminal complaint was filed to German police by referee observer Marco Haase and the case will be forwarded to the Dortmund public prosecutor’s office. They will rule on a decision later this week. The alleged offence relates to slander and defamation.
Jude Bellingham Under Police Investigation
The alleged offence Jude Bellingham is said to have committed stems from two controversial penalty decisions Zwayer gave in the match. The match official rejected Dortmund’s pleas for a penalty before awarding Bayern Munich a controversial late penalty themselves.
Zwayer believed Mats Hummels committed a handball offence, giving Roberto Lewandowski the opportunity to win the game and open a four-point gap at the top of the table. The Polish striker inevitably capitalised on the situation.
Following the final whistle. Bellingham was interviewed by Viaplay. “You give a referee, that has match fixed before, the biggest game in Germany, what do you expect?,” the 18-year-old said.
“For me, it wasn’t [a penalty]. He [Hummels] is not even looking at the ball and he’s fighting to get it and it hits him. You can look at a lot of the decisions in the game.”
Bellingham was referring to Germany’s 2005 match-fixing scandal where it was uncovered that referee Robert Hoyzer was actively taking bribes to fix matches. Zwayer was banned for six months by the DFB for accepting a bribe worth €300 from Hoyzer. The referee returned to officiating once the German league were satisfied he had been rehabilitated and his punishment was served.
Bild reports that Bellingham could face suspension for his comments, which will undoubtedly have major consequences for this season.
Felix Zwayer’s Defence
The referee was not afraid to defend himself against Bellingham’s comment.
He told Sky Germany: “The situation was a standard corner kick. I see in the game that it’s about a touch by Hummels. The question for me was: Is the arm stretched away from the body or not? In real time, it was not clear whether his arm was moved towards the ball.
“I checked it with [VAR officials] in Cologne and then the arm position was checked. The video assistant made an assessment for himself and said that Hummels had his arm away from the body in an unnatural position. In the end, he clearly deflected the ball with his elbow and I came to the decision that it was a penalty.”
Zwayer was also keen to explain why he did not award Marco Reus a penalty for Lucas Hernandez’s challenge. VAR was not referred to on this occasion.
“It was a contact in the upper body area, which is allowed to happen even at high speed,” Zwayer said. “The situation is not black and white, I decided against the penalty because of my line of sight.”
Dortmund Standby Jude Bellingham
Despite potentially being in legal hot water, Dortmund remains firm in supporting their young star. Director of Football Michael Zorc told Ruhr News the club is “100%” behind him.
He said: “The boy is 18, talking after a heated, emotional game,” he said. “He names old facts, you don’t have to do that. He’s just a hot spur. The things are in the world now, but we stand by him. I don’t see anything problematic in terms of criminal law.”
Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke further added to Zorc’s commitment to Bellingham. “To be clear, Jude was not spreading lies, but what happened in the past,” Watzke stated.
“This statement shouldn’t have been, but I don’t see anything untrue there. I don’t expect that to have any consequences for Jude. “
Additional Criminal Complaint
In addition to filing against Bellingham, match observer Haase has also lodged a complaint against former German referee Manuel Grafe, according to Bild.
Grafe has previously criticised Zwayer for his involvement in the refereeing scandal. “Anyone who has ever accepted money and kept Hoyzer’s manipulation secret for six months should not be a professional football referee,” Grafe said.
Haase believes this comment must have influenced Bellingham’s reaction as he ‘could not have made this statement from life experience’.