Euro 2020: UEFA defends decision to reject Pride flag plan in Munich

Uefa has defended rejecting a request to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours

Uefa has defended rejecting a request to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours ahead of the Germany vs Hungary match tonight.

The city of Munich had asked the European football’s governing body to illuminate the stadium with the Pride flag in light of Hungary’s record on LGBT rights.

The country has recently passed new legislation that bans gay people from appearing in school educational materials for under-18s.

However, Uefa said it had to decline the request because of its ‘political context’.

The decision was met with backlash with the EU saying there was not a ‘reasonable excuse’ to turn the proposals down.

Addressing the criticism in a new statement today, Uefa said it was wrong to interpret their decision as political.

The statement said: ‘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.’

UEFA statement

UEFA said it was wrong to interpret their decision as political

Uefa said the request was political and as a neutral organisation, it could not grant it (Picture: EPA)

The football body changed its Twitter icon to the pride colours, insisting it is ‘proud to wear the colours of the rainbow’.

The statement added: ‘For Uefa, the rainbow is not a political symbol but a sign of our commitment to a more firm and diverse society’.

Uefa has proposed alternative dates for the Allianz Arena to be lit up in rainbow colours.

Explaining its decision to reject Munich’s request, the body said yesterday: ‘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.

‘Discriminatory behaviour has marred both matches themselves and, outside the stadiums, the online discourse around the sport we love.

‘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.’

The decision follows an announcement from Uefa on Sunday that Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would not face action over a rainbow armband he wore during the games against France and Portugal.

Neuer wore the armband to show his support for the LGBT+ community during Pride Month, prompting Uefa to investigate whether it could be viewed as a political statement.

But Uefa concluded there was no case to answer, given the 35-year-old was ‘promoting a good cause’.

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