UEFA infuriate football fans after claiming ban on Munich rainbow colours light shown not political

UEFA defence of its decision not to allow a rainbow colours light display at the Allianz Arena ahead of Germany’s Euro 2020 clash against Hungary has been criticised by a leading European Union official.

Dieter Reiter, the mayor of Munich, had been pushing to illuminate the stadium in his city as a direct response to legislation approved by Viktor Orban’s populist right-wing government in Hungary banning gay people from appearing in educational materials in schools or messages that promote gender change for under 18s.

Germany defender Mats Hummels, boss Joachim Low and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer have shown their support for the colours being displayed in some capacity ahead of their crucial Group F clash on Wednesday.

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas has criticised UEFA's decision not to allow a rainbow colours light display ahead of Germany's clash with Hungary

European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas has criticised UEFA’s decision not to allow a rainbow colours light display ahead of Germany’s clash with Hungary

The city of Munich had been pushing to illuminate the stadium ahead of the Group F clash

The city of Munich had been pushing to illuminate the stadium ahead of the Group F clash

The city of Munich had been pushing to illuminate the stadium ahead of the Group F clash

But UEFA upheld its own decision, claiming that while the symbol itself is not political, the request itself is, given that it was made with Hungary’s side set to be present at Bayern Munich’s ground.

‘Today, UEFA is proud to wear the colours of the rainbow,’ a statement from the organisation read.

‘It is a symbol that embodies our core values, promoting everything we believe in – a more just and egalitarian society, tolerant of everyone, regardless of their background, belief or gender.

Mayor of Munich Rieter

Mayor of Munich Rieter

Hungary President Orban

Hungary President Orban

Dieter Reiter (left) wanted it in direct response to controversial legislation introduced by Vikto Orban (right) and his government

‘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.

Hungary’s new ‘anti-LGBT’ law

Hungary’s new law is ostensibly designed to crack down on paedophilia, but critics argue amendments to it make a dangerous link between homosexuality and the abuse of minors. 

The law prohibits sharing any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment to children under 18 in school sex education programs, films and advertisements.

Human rights groups have denounced the measure, saying it could be used to stigmatize and harass residents because of their sexual orientation or gender identities, and deprive young people of essential sex education information.

Thousands have protested in Hungary’s capital of Budapest against the measures.

A number of EU countries including Germany have condemned the law, and a joint statement was released on Tuesday voicing ‘grave concern’ about its impact on the LGBT community. 

Last December homosexual couples were also effectively banned from adopting children, as part of Viktor Orban’s reforms.

‘For UEFA, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society.’

That stance was however criticised by  European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas, who said there was no ‘reasonable excuse’ for their stance.

‘Yes, I find it very difficult to understand what UEFA is trying to do by going against this initiative of the Munich city council,’ he said.

‘Frankly, I do not find any reasonable excuse for that. They supported all the good causes. And all of a sudden, they make an issue out of this.’

The EU also vowed to take whatever action was necessary to foil Hungary’s new law, which must be endorsed by Hungary’s president Janos Ader to come into force.

‘This Hungarian bill is a shame,’ European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, from Germany, said.

Fans and media personnel also voiced their fury at UEFA’s bizarre statement, with one adding: ‘Probably the most tone-deaf, spineless, incoherent statement in this organisation’s history. An unmitigated PR disaster.’

Another meanwhile said: ‘This might be the most pathetic thing I’ve ever read.’

Others urged those at the Allianz Arena to go ahead with a rainbow colours light show in any case, tweeting: ‘Light it up.’

Germany captain Neuer has himself promised he will continue to wear the rainbow armband which briefly sparked a disciplinary investigation by UEFA before they went back on their decision.

The armband is a statement in Pride month, as well as the entire team’s message against hate and homophobia.

Hummels meanwhile turned up for a pre-match press conference wearing a multi-coloured shirt branded with the slogan ‘love unites’ and spoke of the positive impact sportsmen and women can make on society.

Low also added he would have been ‘happy if the stadium was illuminated in rainbow colours’ and that it was important not only to provide ‘symbols’, but also to ‘live with these values’. 

Sides in Germany will also show their support, with multiple Bundesliga clubs, including Wolfsburg, Hertha Berlin, Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Cologne also pledging to illuminate their stadiums during the game.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would do whatever it takes to thwart the new laws

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would do whatever it takes to thwart the new laws

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would do whatever it takes to thwart the new laws

France striker Antoine Griezmann also posted a picture of the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours with a rainbow emoji and a fist.

Munich mayor Reiter slammed the organisation and said: ‘I find it shameful that UEFA forbids us to send a message here in Munich for tolerance, respect and solidarity with the LGBTQI+ community.

‘I am also very disappointed that the DFB (the German football federation), despite the unbelievably clear positioning here in Munich, has not achieved anything.’

Germany captain Manuel Neuer will continue to wear the rainbow armband that had triggered a UEFA investigation

Germany captain Manuel Neuer will continue to wear the rainbow armband that had triggered a UEFA investigation

Germany captain Manuel Neuer will continue to wear the rainbow armband that had triggered a UEFA investigation

Germany boss Joachim Low (left) and defender Mats Hummels (right) have also shown their support

Germany boss Joachim Low (left) and defender Mats Hummels (right) have also shown their support

Germany boss Joachim Low (left) and defender Mats Hummels (right) have also shown their support

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