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Football: Poland's Marciniak kept as ref for Champions League final after apology

02.06.2023 14:30
Poland's Szymon Marciniak will remain as the referee for next week's Champions League final after he apologised for speaking at an event linked to a far-right group, European football's governing body UEFA said on Friday.
Szymon Marciniak.

It announced that it accepted Marciniak's clarification and was keeping him in charge of the high-profile game, news outlets reported.   

UEFA said, as quoted by Britain's The Times newspaper: “We sought urgent clarification on this matter. After conducting a thorough review, we have received a statement from Mr Marciniak expressing his deepest apologies and providing a clarification regarding his involvement in the event."

'A big manipulation': Polish sports minister

Earlier, the Polish government threw its support behind Marciniak amid allegations of far-right links, Polish state news agency PAP reported.

Polish Sports Minister Kamil Bortniczuk tweeted on Thursday that "the claim made" against Marciniak "is a big manipulation."

'He’s the best referee in the world': Polish PM

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in a tweet on Friday: “All the political forces in Poland are speaking in one voice when it comes to referee Marciniak. He’s the best referee in the world. He respects everyone and cares about respect on the pitch and in life. It’s wrong to judge him on the basis of one unfair opinion.”

'Untruthful claim about referee': Polish deputy FM

Meanwhile, Deputy Foreign Minister Paweł Jabłoński posted a video message on Twitter, in which he said that the “untruthful claim about referee Szymon Marciniak is an unbelievable outrage.”

Jabłoński added: “It’s an attempt to destroy a man for appearing in a place where, according to some radical organisation, people shouldn’t appear.”

“Sadly, these claims are full of mendacious statements, but such lies have big power,” Jabłoński also said. 

The Polish government sent a letter to UEFA and encouraged the leaders of all of Poland’s political parties, as well as “all MPs, senators and other politicians” to support Marciniak, the PAP news agency reported.

'We call upon the referee to acknowledge his mistake'

Polish anti-racist organisation Never Again on Thursday said that Marciniak on Monday spoke at an event in Poland organised by Sławomir Mentzen, the leader of Poland's far-right Confederation party.

Never Again’s co-founder Rafał Pankowski said: “We are shocked and appalled by Marciniak’s public association with Mentzen and his brand of toxic far-right politics.”

Pankowski added: “It is incompatible with the basic values of fair play such as equality and respect. We call upon the referee to acknowledge his mistake. If he does not do it, we believe UEFA and FIFA should draw consequences.”

‘I stand against racism, anti-Semitism, intolerance, hatred’: ref

Marciniak on Thursday evening sent a statement to Never Again, in which he said: “As an international football referee of many years, I always prioritise fair play and respect for the fellow person. I wish to instil these highest values in others.”

He added: “I always distance myself from any instances of racism, anti-Semitism and lack of tolerance, which I demonstrate during the matches which I officiate. I always say ‘no’ to hatred and will always spread the belief that the most important thing is to be a good person.”

Marciniak to officiate Champions League final

UEFA last month announced that Marciniak would referee the 2023 Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan, due to take place in Istanbul, Turkey, on June 10.

The Pole in December officiated the World Cup final between Argentina and France and was praised for his handling of the match, according to reports at the time.


Source: IAR, PAP/PAP, The GuardianThe Times, Reuters, uefa.com