The golden child who displaced Marciniak. A Polish billionaire exploded because of Letexier

The golden child who displaced Marciniak. A Polish billionaire exploded because of Letexier

While Szymon Marciniak became a referee by accident, Francois Letexier picked up the whistle at the age of 13. He is the “golden child” and the apple of FIFA and UEFA’s eye. The Euro 2024 final is both an honour and an important test for him.

Szymon Marciniak  started the refereeing course exceptionally late, as he was only 21 years old. And it was by complete accident – in one of the matches of the Kuyavian-Pomeranian IV league group he insulted Adam Lyczmański, and he challenged him: “If you’re such a tough guy, then do some paperwork, take a whistle and try it yourself”.

It was 2002. At the same time, 2,000 km west of Płock, 13-year-old Francois Letexier was playing football in a small Breton club called US Bedee-Pleumeleuc. “He was a left defender. He had a great left foot. He was athletic and had a predisposition for competitive sports,” is how one of his colleagues from that time recalls the referee appointed to oversee the Euro 2024 finals in

Letexier, however, did not see himself as Bixente Lizarazu’s successor and signed up for a refereeing course. He started by officiating matches for youngsters. “I remember my debut. I was terribly weak! I had to learn everything from scratch,” he recalled in an interview with

The unusual decision (what 13-year-old dreams of being a referee?!) was a bull’s eye. His career developed and continues to develop at the speed of a rushing TGV. He climbed the ladder rapidly. At the age of 20, he received a license to conduct senior matches, and in 2012 he first presented himself to a wider audience.

He was 23 when he refereed the final of the French Junior Championship. From a Polish perspective, it’s no big deal, but in French football it’s a test for promising referees. What’s more, the Emmanuel Gambardella Cup final is played at the Stade de France on the same day as the senior French Cup final.

Letexier’s successful performance at Saint-Denis opened the door to further promotions. In the years 2012-15, he was promoted year after year from the fifth division to the French top flight. He made his debut in Ligue 1 in January 2016 – he was only 26 years old then. He became the youngest referee to ever referee a match in the country’s highest league.

A year after his Ligue 1 debut, he became an international referee – the youngest Frenchman in history, of course. A year and a half later, he returned to the Stade de France to referee the French Cup final. He was awarded the Elite category in 2021 at the age of 32 – also the youngest in history.

Although he is now one of France’s 11 professional judges and one of the best arbitrators in the world, he combines conducting meetings with his work as a bailiff. “It’s a break for me, which helps me keep my balance,” he says.

Polish billionaire exploded

He is considered the “golden child” and his image was flawless for a long time. The first problems began in October 2022. In the match OGC Nice – FC Nantes (1:1) he made decisions that were unfavorable for the guests. After the match, he received death threats from his countrymen on social media – Nantes is, after all, the historical capital of Brittany.

The Canaries also got on his bad side in March this year. After the match between Olympique Marseille and Nantes (2:0), Waldemar Kita, a Polish billionaire who owns the club from Stade de la Beaujoire, could not take it anymore. After the final whistle, Kita – as the French media called it – “exploded with anger” and verbally attacked Letexier in the tunnel, accusing him of distorting the result. A video of the incident went viral .