UEFA on Tuesday turned down a request to allow the Allianz Arena to be lit up in rainbow colours during Germany's Euro 2020 match against Hungary.
UEFA on Tuesday turned down a request to allow the Allianz Arena to be lit up in rainbow colours. The request came from Munich’s mayor, who wished to get the lights up for Germany’s Euro 2020 match against Hungary. The reason? Hungary’s new laws that are seen as a threat to the LGBTQ community. Dieter Reiter, Munich’s mayor, wanted to light up the stadium to protest the laws that ban the sharing of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change. They also restrict showing of content with homosexuality in TV shows accessible to minors.
In a statement, UEFA stated a number of different dates for the gesture. They also explained why the display of lights can be seen as a political gesture.
“UEFA has yesterday received a request from the mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, on behalf of the city council, to have the arena in Munich illuminated in rainbow colours at the upcoming UEFA EURO 2020 group stage match between Germany and Hungary,” read the statement.
“In this letter, the mayor outlines the reasoning behind this request to be a political decision which has been taken by the Hungarian parliament.
“However 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 the Christopher Street Day week in Munich.”
Christopher Street Day events are held in memory of an uprising by gay people in New York in 1969.
The DFB also said they prefer any protest or gesture took place on any other date.
The Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said “mixing politics and sport” was “harmful and dangerous”. Thus, he welcomed the UEFA decision.
“Thank God that in the circles of European football leadership common sense still prevails and they did not play along with the political provocation.
“I think, no, I can say that the leadership of UEFA made the right decision when they decided not to play along with the political provocation against Hungary,” he said.
However, this isn’t the first instance of LGBTQ related controversy the tournament has found itself in.
One of the most notable incidents, ironically, involves Hungary. The crowds at the Puskas Stadium in Budapest were the ones who came under the scanner.
During their first game against Portugal, photos began doing the rounds on social media that showed anti-LGBTQ banners.
One banner held up by a group of men wearing black t-shirts simply read “anti-LMBTQ”. That’s the local short form for the LGBTQ community.
Then, ahead of the match against France, Hungary fans held a protest march. This time, the target of their ire was players kneeling before the game.
Then, in a somewhat bizarre incident, Germany skipper Manuel Neuer came under UEFA fire. The reason? He wore a rainbow-coloured armband in a match.
That enquiry met a quick death, however. UEFA said that Neuer had merely been ‘promoting a good cause’.