1 June 2023

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has called upon the Champions League final referee, Szymon Marciniak, to distance himself from far-right activities.

Marciniak has reportedly promoted and participated in a recent even organized by a Polish far-right leader Slawomir Mentzen, known for his five points slogan: ‘We stand against Jews, gays, abortion, taxation and the European Union’.

Szymon Marciniak is currently the world’s highest profile football referee. In December 2022, he was tasked by FIFA with refereering the World Cup final. On 10 June 2023, he is going to referee the UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter, which will take place at Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium.

According to reports, Marciniak participated in an event organized by Slawomir Mentzen in Katowice on 29 May. The gathering, under the title ‘Everest’, was billed as a networking event complete with a beer drinking session, but it clearly served the purpose of promoting Mentzen’s political agenda ahead of this year’s parliamentary election in Poland. The event’s poster, distributed through social media, featured Mentzen himself drinking beer from a cup. Another poster featured Marciniak wearing a FIFA referee kit. A post by Mentzen announcing Marciniak’s presence at the ‘Everest’ event was shared on Marciniak’s Facebook fanpage. Marciniak was presented as a speaker on the event’s website alongside Mentzen and Mentzen subsequently praised Marciniak as a ‘genius speaker’.

Slawomir Mentzen is the leader of the far-right Konfederacja (Confederation) party, formed in 2019. According to the party’s co-founder Janusz Korwin-Mikke, its name was inspired by the Confederacy of the South which defended slavery during the American Civil War. The party has been known for its extreme positions against ethnic minorities, migrants and refugees, LGBT and women’s rights.

Mentzen achieved notoriety thanks to publicly presenting his radical ‘five points’ programme in 2019. In 2021 he made international headlines as the producer of a beer named ‘White IPA Matters’, which mocked the Black Lives Matter movement. In 2022, he succeeded Korwin-Mikke in the leadership position.

According to opinion polls, Mentzen’s party has the support of around 10 percent of the Polish voters, but its popularity is much higher among young men who form the bulk of its base. This is especially true among the football fan milieu. According to a research conducted by the Sport Analytics agency in the autumn of 2019, the party was supported by 47 percent of the football fans in Poland.

- ‘We are shocked and appalled by Marciniak’s public association with Mentzen and his brand of toxic far-right politics. 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’ - said Rafal Pankowski, a co-founder of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization established in Warsaw in 1996. In 2012, it implemented the ‘Respect Diversity - Football Unites’ social responsibility programme accompanying the UEFA European Football Championship in Poland and Ukraine. It is a founding member of the Fare network.


UEFA statement concerning Szymon Marciniak

June 2, 2023

UEFA received a statement from Mr. Marciniak expressing his deepest apologies and providing a clarification regarding his involvement in the event.

UEFA has diligently investigated the allegations surrounding Szymon Marciniak's participation in an event organised in Katowice on 29 May 2023. These allegations are taken with utmost seriousness by UEFA and the entire football community as we unequivocally reject the values promoted by a group linked to this conference. Yesterday, we committed to gathering all relevant information and 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. We believe it is crucial to share his statement to address the concerns and ensure transparency.

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 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.

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. These principles lie at the very core of the spirit of football and align seamlessly with my personal beliefs. 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.

Thank you for your understanding, and I humbly request an opportunity to make amends and regain your trust through my future actions.


Szymon Marciniak

Following Mr. Marciniak's statement, UEFA acknowledges his profound apologies and clarification. UEFA also reached out to ‘NEVER AGAIN’, an NGO affiliated with the FARE network, which raised the initial concerns about Mr. Marciniak's involvement in the event. They requested that Mr. Marciniak remain in his role as the referee for the upcoming UEFA Champions League final, firmly asserting that removing him would undermine the promotion of anti-discrimination.

Based on the information provided, UEFA confirms that Mr. Marciniak will fulfil his role as the referee for the 2023 UEFA Champions League final.

UEFA is dedicated to fostering an inclusive, respectful and fair-play football environment, and stands firmly against hate, discrimination, and intolerance. We reiterate our commitment to promoting unity, respect, and fair play within the beautiful game.

We look forward to a thrilling UEFA Champions League final between Manchester City FC and FC Internazionale Milano next week at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium.


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