Syzmon Marciniak will stay on as the Champions League final referee after UEFA received his ‘profound apologies and clarification’ regarding his speaking appearance at an event with a far-right leader in Poland.
Marciniak last month was appointed to referee the clash between Manchester City and Inter Milan in Istanbul, but there were calls for him to be replaced after news of his involvement with the ‘Everest’ event emerged.
Polish anti-racism group Never Again claimed that Marciniak had both promoted and participated in the conference organised by one of the leaders of far-right alliance Confederation Slawomir Mentzen in Katowice.
The Polish referee was one of ‘Everest’s’ keynote speakers and Marciniak’s appearance featured heavily in material promoting the event.
While billed as a conference for entrepreneurs, opponents claim the event – which took place on Monday – instead provided a platform for Mentzen’s far-right political agenda.
Szymon Marciniak will stay in his role as Champions League final referee after a UEFA review
Marciniak, left, was pictured at an event organised by far-right politician Slawomir Mentzen
Marciniak was listed as a keynote speaker on the website for the conference in Katowice
Never Again claimed that Mentzen’s political slogan is: ‘We stand against Jews, gays, abortion, taxes, and the European Union.’
But UEFA announced on Friday that they were satisfied with Marciniak’s apology, as well as further clarification the referee offered over his involvement in the event.
Never Again was in agreement, walking back their earlier calls for his removal by requesting the official remain in his role.
Marciniak shared his ‘deepest apologies’ in the wake of UEFA’s decision, stressing that he had ‘no knowledge’ of the event’s connection to the Polish extreme-right.
‘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,’ the apology began. ‘I want to express my deepest apologies for my involvement and any distress or harm it may have caused.
‘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.
The referee reiterated his commitment to UEFA’s values, including inclusivity and respect for all.
‘These principles lie at the very core of the spirit of football and align seamlessly with my personal beliefs,’ Marciniak continued. ‘Moreover, I wholeheartedly condemn any form of hate, discrimination, or intolerance, as they have no place within the sport or society as a whole.
‘I also want to highlight my commitment to combating discrimination in football. I was among the first referees in the world, and certainly the first in my country, to apply the “three-step procedure” in response to a serious discriminatory incident during a match in Poland.
‘Moving forward, I pledge to be more vigilant in scrutinising the events and organisations with which I associate myself. I am committed to learning from this experience and ensuring that such lapses in judgment do not occur in the future.
‘Lastly, I extend my sincere apologies to the clubs, players, fans, colleagues, officials and organisations who place their trust in me. I fully comprehend that my actions have had repercussions beyond personal disappointment, and I am fully prepared to accept any consequences resulting from my ill-advised participation.’
Ahead of UEFA’s decision, Marciniak made his first public statement to Polish news outlet Przegląd Sportowy Onet, claiming that he was for ‘fair play and respect’.
‘Being an international football referee for many years, I always put fair play and respect for other people first and I want to pass on these highest values to others,’ Marciniak wrote.
Marciniak previously oversaw Manchester City’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid
‘I always cut myself off from racism, anti-Semitism and intolerance, which I show in the matches where I referee. I always say stop hating and I will promote that the most important thing is to be a good person.’
Never Again co-founder Radal Pankowski had previously called upon the referee to make an apology, stating that his attendance felt ‘incompatible’ with UEFA’s values.
‘We are shocked and appalled by Marciniak’s public association with Mentzen and his brand of toxic far-right politics,’ Pankowski said.
‘It is incompatible with the basic values of fair play such as equality and respect.’
June 10’s final will be the first Marciniak has refereed in his career, after taking charge of eight Champions League matches this season.