UEFA, the governing body of European football, announced on Friday that Polish referee Szymon Marciniak will officiate the Champions League final on June 10, putting an end to the speculation surrounding his involvement. Marciniak had been facing accusations of intolerance after reportedly attending a far-right political event in May.
In a statement posted on its website, UEFA stated, “UEFA confirms that Mr. Marciniak will fulfill his role as the referee for the 2023 UEFA Champions League final.” The organization also highlighted the diligence with which they had investigated the allegations, emphasizing their commitment to taking such matters seriously. They further condemned the values promoted by the group associated with the conference and expressed the football community’s united rejection of them.
UEFA conducted a thorough review, which led to the receipt of a statement from Marciniak, posted on their website, in which he expressed his deepest apologies and provided clarification regarding his involvement in the event. Marciniak explained that he had been unaware of the event’s affiliation with a right-wing organization, and that its views were completely contrary to his personal beliefs and the principles he upholds in his life.
The referee emphasized that had he known about the associations of the event, he would have categorically declined the invitation. Marciniak also expressed unwavering support for the values championed by UEFA and his commitment to combating discrimination in football.
With this decision, UEFA aims to address concerns and ensure transparency surrounding the controversy. Marciniak’s inclusion as the referee for the prestigious Champions League final signifies UEFA’s confidence in his ability to carry out his duties impartially, despite the prior allegations.
Polish Government Official Denies Charges of Ties to Ultra-Right Circles Against Referee Szymon Marciniak
In response to allegations of ties to ultra-right circles, a Polish government official vehemently dismissed the claims as “untruthful and scandalous” on Friday. The charges against referee Szymon Marciniak were raised by “Nigdy Więcej” (Never Again – ed.), an organization dedicated to monitoring racism and discrimination, after Marciniak was spotted attending a meeting hosted by Slawomir Mentzen, a prominent figure in Poland’s ultra-right Confederation party.
In light of the accusations, UEFA has announced its intention to investigate the matter and release a statement regarding Marciniak on Friday.
Pawel Jablonski, a deputy foreign minister, shared his thoughts on the situation, referring to Never Again as a “radical organization” and denouncing the charges against Marciniak as both “untruthful” and “scandalous.” In a video posted on Twitter, Jablonski described the affair surrounding referee Szymon Marciniak as a tremendous scandal, suggesting it was an attempt to tarnish his reputation simply because he attended an event that the radical organization believed he should not have. He also highlighted a letter from Poland’s sports minister in defense of Marciniak, urging politicians from all parties to sign it despite their political differences.
Support for Marciniak also emerged from Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek, Poland’s European affairs minister, who took to Twitter to express his disgust at what he described as an attempt to destroy the career of the greatest Polish referee in history.
Never Again spokesperson Rafal Pankowski explained the rationale behind the charges, stating that the organization was “shocked and appalled” by Marciniak’s public appearance at Mentzen’s event. Pankowski emphasized that such actions contradicted the fundamental principles of fair play, which encompass equality and respect. He urged the referee to acknowledge his error and suggested that if he failed to do so, both UEFA and FIFA should take appropriate action.
In response to Never Again’s allegations, Marciniak, in a statement provided to the organization on Thursday, reiterated his longstanding commitment to distancing himself from racism, anti-Semitism, and any form of intolerance. The experienced international football referee emphasized his unwavering stance against hatred, declaring his continued dedication to promoting the importance of being a good human being.