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Euro football bosses block ‘important’ show of solidarity with under-attack LGBT+ Hungarians

Lily Wakefield June 22, 2021
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The Allianz Arena football stadium illuminated in rainbow colours

The Allianz Arena football stadium illuminated in rainbow colours in January, 2021. (Getty/ Alexandra Beier)

UEFA has blocked Munich’s Allianz Arena from lighting up in rainbow colours for the Germany v Hungary Euro 2020 game as a statement against a new anti-LGBT+ law in Hungary.

The show of solidarity for the game on Wednesday (23 June) was requested by the mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, as well as the Munich city council and LGBT+ rights groups in Germany, after a new law that bans the “promotion” of LGBT+ issues was passed by Viktor Orbán’s ruling party Fidesz.

Reiter said he had written UEFA to request permission to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours, which he said would be “an important sign of tolerance and equality”.

But according to Deutsche Welle (DW)UEFA has now said that the rainbow lights would constitute a “political” statement, and has blocked the request.

The football administrative body said in a statement: “UEFA, through its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organisation. Given the political context of this specific request – a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – UEFA must decline this request.

“UEFA has nevertheless proposed to the city of Munich to illuminate the stadium with the rainbow colours on either 28 June – the Christopher Street Liberation Day – or between 3 and 9 July, which is Christopher Street Day week in Munich.”

German politicians and LGBT+ rights groups in both Germany and Hungary expressed their disappointment over the decision.

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder wrote on Twitter: “It’s a shame that Munich’s stadium won’t be allowed to light up in rainbow colours. That would have been a very good sign for tolerance and freedom.”

Hungarian LGBT+ rights organisation Háttér Society responded to the news in a statement: “As Orbán and Fidesz have pumped endless money into football, attempting to revive it again as a source of national pride, having to walk into a stadium illuminated in rainbow colours would be quite ironic.”

Another Hungarian organisation, Family is Family, added: “A similar message coming from UEFA or from the players could mean the world for many people.

“It sends the message that it is OK to be a member of the LGBT+ community.”

Confusingly, UEFA recently launched an investigation into German team captain Manuel Neuer, after he wore a rainbow armband during the team’s Euro 2020 matches, but it later backed down, allowing the LGBT+ Pride symbol.

While it was initially investigating whether Neuer’s armband should be considered “political”, it eventually ruled that it “was promoting a good cause, ie diversity, [and] the team will not face disciplinary proceedings”.

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