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UEFA avoids a diplomatic issue with Viktor Orbàn but remains caught up in the eye of the storm

From Nyon it’s a no to Germany’s request: the Allianz Arena will not shine with the colours of the rainbow.

by Alessandra Puglisi

Photo courtesy of Maximilian Dorrbecker via Creative Commons.

On Tuesday the 22nd of June, UEFA’s president Aleksander Čeferin has refused Germany’s request to light up the Allianz Arena with the colors of the rainbow. Dieter Reiter, mayor of Munich, had sent the request on Monday in view of Wednesday’s EURO 2020 game between Germany and Hungary. Germany’s appeal was a clear way to oppose the recently approved law by Viktor Orbàn, Hungary’s Prime Minister, that would ban gay people from appearing in school educational materials or programs for under -18s.

UEFA’s response claimed that the reason for denying the request was that “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.”

Only last Sunday, UEFA stated that Germany’s goalkeeper and captain, Manuel Neuer, would not face disciplinary action for wearing a rainbow armband in the previous games against France and Portugal. The 35-year-old wore the armband in support of the LGBTQ+ community to celebrate Pride Month. In that instance, UEFA investigated Neuer’s actions and concluded that Germany’s captain was promoting a good cause and would not incur any disciplinary proceedings with his team.

Despite UEFA’s statement reading that: “Racism, homophobia, sexism, and all forms of discrimination are a stain on our societies — and represent one of the biggest problems faced by the game today,” a few responses have criticised the approach deeming it insufficient to send a real message and lacking in action.

One of the replies came from FC Bayern München's president Herbert Hainer: “We would have liked it if the Allianz Arena could have been lit up in rainbow colours on Wednesday. Open-Mindedness and tolerance are fundamental values that our society and FC Bayern stand for.”

Another harsh reply came from FC Barcelona Femení and Norway International champion Caroline Graham Hansen, in the form of a tweet: ‘Shame on you @UEFA for not letting München light up the stadium in the rainbow colours! You know better than calling this a political motivated action. This is a matter of equality, humanity and taking a stand against hate! #pride

The refusal, then, stung even more considering that UEFA has launched and promoted the project ‘Respect’ since 2008, a campaign that aims to work towards unity and respect across gender, race, religion and ability.


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