UEFA says it is “proud to wear the colours of the rainbow” amid controversy over the decision to reject Germany’s request to light up the Allianz Arena for Wednesday’s Euro 2020 clash with Hungary.
Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter asked the European football governing body for permission to illuminate the stadium in rainbow colours in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
He made the request after Hungary last week passed a law that prohibits the sharing of content in schools that could be deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change.
However, UEFA proposed alternative dates for the ground to be lit up as the gesture was deemed to be of a political nature.
“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,” a statement read on Tuesday.
Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer expressed regret at the decision from the European governing body, while Reiter labelled it “shameful” and criticised the German Football Federation for failing to support the request.
But UEFA issued another statement on Wednesday to defend itself amid the widespread criticism, stressing its own commitment to fighting against any form of discrimination.
“Today, UEFA is proud to wear the colours of the rainbow,” the statement read.
“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.
“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.
“For UEFA, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society.”
UEFA last week opened an investigation into Manuel Neuer wearing a rainbow-coloured captain’s armband in his side’s opening two Euro 2020 games.
But the probe was halted after the governing body deemed it “a good cause”.