MEPs condemn UEFA’s refusal to light up Munich stadium in rainbow colours

UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, has turned down a request to light up Munich’s Allianz Arena in the colours of the rainbow flag for Germany’s Euro 2020 match with Hungary on Wednesday.
Alamy: Munich Allianz Arena

By Lorna Hutchinson

Lorna Hutchinson is Deputy Editor of The Parliament Magazine

23 Jun 2021

The row comes against the backdrop of Hungary’s recent adoption of amendments which discriminate against LGBTIQ persons under the pretext of protecting children.

In a statement released on Tuesday, UEFA said, “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.”

EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli said, “The lighting of a stadium in rainbow colours affirms our intrinsic humanity, regardless of our diversity. Rainbows are not offensive. LGBTIQphobia is.”

S&D MEP Marc Angel, co-president of Parliament’s LGBTI Intergroup, echoed this sentiment, saying that rainbow colours are a symbol of diversity and inclusion, and that rather than being a political message, the rainbow flag is a message of tolerance.

He added, “UEFA, today you scored an own goal. I count on the creativity of the spectators - I’m sure they'll be very colourful. Good to have allies!”

Fellow LGBTI Intergroup co-president, Greens/EFA deputy Terry Reintke said, “According to [Viktor] Orbán, the fact that I have fundamental rights is a dangerous political statement. Never start using the logic of hateful autocrats when you take decisions, UEFA. Otherwise you - willingly or not - end up supporting their authoritarian agenda.”

“The lighting of a stadium in rainbow colours affirms our intrinsic humanity, regardless of our diversity. Rainbows are not offensive. LGBTIQphobia is” Helena Dalli, EU Equality Commissioner

Spanish Renew Europe deputy Adrián Vázquez Lázara said he had written to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, requesting that she ask UEFA to allow the rainbow-hued lighting of the Munich stadium to go ahead on Wednesday.

“Fundamental rights have no party, and there is no excuse to censor them,” he added.

Another Spanish MEP, S&D member Adriana Maldonado, called UEFA’s position on the matter “a disgrace”, adding that she hoped the football body would rectify the issue on time.

The Renew Europe Group said in a tweet, “Dear UEFA, the repressive Hungarian Government does not have a veto on the values of a whole continent. Sport and social progress have a historic link. The European Parliament has declared the European Union an LGBTI Freedom Zone. Let's light up Munich.”

The S&D Group similarly tweeted, “Munich's Allianz Arena should be lit up in the rainbow flag to send a message to Orbán: LGBT+ rights are human rights!”

Spanish The Left MEP Idoia Villanueva said that rather than being used against anyone, the rainbow flag is “the claim of freedom, tolerance and rights for all people.”

“Never start using the logic of hateful autocrats when you take decisions, UEFA. Otherwise you - willingly or not - end up supporting their authoritarian agenda” Terry Reintke, Greens/EFA

Danish Renew Europe deputy Morten Helveg commented on Wednesday that UEFA cannot stop some of Munich's biggest companies from changing their logo to the rainbow flag today, adding that this was a “strong signal to say no to Hungary's new homophobic laws.”

He said that across Germany, stadiums will also be covered in rainbows tonight, adding, “Nice to see that Germany insists on sending this great signal despite UEFA's shameful ban in Munich.”

Finnish Greens/EFA MEP Ville Niinistö said, “Football is for everyone. All are included and accepted as they are. No to repression and racism.”

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and former Greens/EFA MEP Petra de Sutter called UEFA's decision “incomprehensible.”

“A stadium with rainbow colours is a symbol of inclusion and tolerance. It has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with humanity,” she added.

Read the most recent articles written by Lorna Hutchinson - MEPs come out in force against Hungarian anti-LGBTIQ law at Budapest Pride

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