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UEFA slammed over ‘meaningless’ pledge to ‘respect the rainbow’ that didn’t mention LGBT+ people once

Lily Wakefield June 23, 2021
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The Allianz arena lit with rainbow colours for Christopher Street Day, 2019

The Allianz arena in Munich lit with rainbow colours for Christopher Street Day, 2019. (AFP via Getty/ DPA/ TOBIAS HASE)

UEFA has been slammed for pledging to “respect the rainbow” without even mentioning LGBT+ people as an international row over its stance on homophobia rumbles on.

This week, UEFA 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, which Munich mayor Dieter Reiter supported as “an important sign of tolerance and equality”.

Despite calls for the rainbow lights from Reiter, Munich city council and LGBT+ rights groups in both Hungary and Germany, UEFA said the statement against Hungary’s law banning the “promotion” of LGBT+ issues was too “political”.

The decision was met with backlash, with Munich planning to light up a wind turbine in rainbow lights instead. Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán has since cancelled plans to travel to the city for the match.

In a moment of horrible irony, on Wednesday (23 June), UEFA gave its own logo a rainbow makeover and said in a statement: “Today, UEFA is proud to wear the colours of the rainbow.”

The statement, titled “UEFA respects the rainbow”, continued: “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.”

It said the decision to block Munich’s request for a rainbow stadium had been “misinterpreted”, insisting that “the request itself was political”.

“For UEFA, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and equal game,” it added.

The football administrative body was slammed on social media for its mediocre statement which failed to even mention the LGBT+ community.

Matthew Hodson, director of Aidsmap, tweeted: “A commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society is political.

“Rainbow-washing your logo is not enough.”

Charlotte Nichols, the UK’s shadow minister for women and equalities wrote described the statement as “embarrassing nonsense”, and wrote: “There is not even a mention of sexuality/ LGBT+/ homophobia in the statement!

“What do they think the Pride rainbow is for? It’s not some meaningless fashion statement for their Twitter avatar.”

The organisation Football v Homophobia simply responded with a Desmond Tutu quote: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

“If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

On the same day that UEFA released its statement, a top EU official said that there was “no excuse” for blocking the rainbow lights at Allianz Arena.

According to ABC News, European Commission vice president Margaritis Schinas said at a news conference: “I find it very difficult to understand what UEFA is trying to do by going against this initiative of the Munich city council.

“Frankly, I do not find any reasonable excuse for that.”

Related topics: football

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