UEFA has defended its decision not to allow the Allianz Arena to display the rainbow flag for the Euro 2020 clash between Hungary and Germany on Wednesday.
Munich mayor Dieter Reiter wrote to UEFA to ask permission to light up the stadium in Munich with rainbow colours after Germany captain Manuel Neuer wore a rainbow armband against France to show the DFB’s support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month.
The application made clear the city wanted to protest a law passed by Hungarian lawmakers last week that prohibits sharing with minors any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment. The law has been denounced as anti-LGBT discrimination by human rights groups, who say it links homosexuality with pedaphilia.
UEFA denied the request and said the rainbow symbol was not the reason for the decision but Hungary’s presence at the game.
A statement on Wednesday read: “UEFA is proud to wear the colours of the rainbow. It is a symbol that embodies our core values, promoting everything that we believe in — a more just and egalitarian society, tolerant of everyone, regardless of their background, belief or gender.
“Some people have interpreted UEFA’s decision to turn down the city of Munich’s request to illuminate the Munich stadium in rainbow colours for a EURO 2020 match as ‘political.’
“On the contrary, the request itself was political, linked to the Hungarian football team’s presence in the stadium for this evening’s match with Germany.
“For UEFA, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society.whether this contravened their rules over athletes not being permitted to make political statements.”
The decision was met with criticism by several Bundesliga clubs as well footballers Antoine Griezmann, Gerard Pique, Katie McCabe and Pernille Harder.
— Antoine Griezmann (@AntoGriezmann) June 22, 2021
A top European Union official said he can’t find “any reasonable excuse” for UEFA to reject host city Munich’s plans to display rainbow colours.
“Yes, I find it very difficult to understand what UEFA is trying to do by going against this initiative of the Munich city council,” European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas said during a news conference ahead of Wednesday’s match. “Frankly, I do not find any reasonable excuse for that.”
He added: “They supported all the good causes. And all of a sudden, they make an issue out of this.”
In a statement on Wednesday, the European Union’s chief executive vowed to take any action necessary to thwart the new law, which must be endorsed by Hungary’s president to take effect.
“This Hungarian bill is a shame,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.
Several other stadiums in Germany that are unaffiliated with the Euro 2020 tournament said they would light up their venues in rainbow colours.
Information from Associated Press was included in this report.