Despite Linked to Far-Right Event, Marciniak Will Officiate Champions League Final

Despite being the poster boy for a far-right event, UEFA has given Szymon Marciniak the green light to referee the upcoming Champions League final. This decision comes after Marciniak issued a lengthy apology for his involvement in the Everest event.

Marciniak was a keynote speaker at the event organized by Sławomir Mentzen, leader of Poland’s Confederation party. Mentzen is known for his divisive views against Jews, gays, abortion, taxation, and the European Union. Recently, he launched the beer White IPA Matters beer through his brewery.

The Guardian unearthed the connection between Everest and the “the world’s best referee” by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics in 2013. In full FIFA referee kit, Marciniak was pictured on the poster of Everest on social media.

UEFA swiftly launched an inquiry into Marciniak’s participation in the event. It was conducted by UEFA’s Chief of Football, Zvonimir Boban, and Chief Refereeing Officer, Roberto Rosetti.

Marciniak’s Apology Accepted

After the investigation, UEFA has decided that Marciniak will indeed fulfil his duty as the referee for the highly anticipated Champions League final. He is widely recognized as one of the premier international referees of his time and took charge of the 2022 FIFA World Cup final held in Qatar.

It came back on the news of Marciniak’s apology. The Polish referee expressed grave regret and claimed he was completely unaware of the event’s affiliations. He stated that had he known about the event’s association with a Polish extreme-right movement, he would have unequivocally declined the invitation.

“I hope this statement will find its way to all those concerned, particularly the individuals who were rightfully alarmed and disappointed by my participation in the ‘Everest’ event organised in Katowice on 29 May 2023. I want to express my deepest apologies for my involvement.

“Upon reflection and further investigation, it has become evident that I was gravely misled and completely unaware of the true nature and affiliations of the event in question. I had no knowledge that it was associated a Polish extreme-right movement. Had I been aware of this fact, I would have categorically declined the invitation.

“It is important to understand that the values promoted by this movement are entirely contrary to my personal beliefs and the principles I strive to uphold in my life. I am deeply remorseful for any perception that my participation may have contradicted them.

“As a professional deeply committed to the game of football, I want to emphasise my unwavering support for the values championed by Uefa, particularly inclusivity and respect for all individuals regardless of their background.”

Racism’s Shadow on European Football

Racism is a persistent issue in European football, and it is evident that UEFA has not been entirely successful in eradicating it. The European governing body fined fans  £4,319 for racist abuse directed at Rico Lewis during a match between Sevilla and Manchester City, an insufficient measure to address the severity of the offence.

Real Madrid attacker Vinicius Jr raised his voice on the topic after being the subject of abuse and chants. The Brazilian stopped the game and pointed at the abusers as a melee broke out. Vinicius received a red card from the referee despite being put in a chokehold by a Valencia player in the scuffle that took place. La Liga tried its best to brush the incident aside and only took action after several days.

Spanish football journalist Guillem Balague agrees that the lack of sentencing or punishment for racist incidents related to football is deeply concerning. It is endemic on the continent where authorities have failed to take a firm stance or implement stronger measures to combat this problem effectively.

This is not a Spanish problem as French defender, Samuel Umtiti experienced racist chants from Lazio fans. Belgian forward, Romelu Lukaku was also subject to these during Inter Milan’s Copa Italia semifinal against Juventus. Raheem Starling and other black England players received racist abuse, including monkey chants and Nazi salutes during England’s trip to Bulgaria for a UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying match in October 2019.

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