European football governing body UEFA declined a request to allow Munich’s Allianz Arena to be lit up in rainbow colors to support LGBTQ + rights, saying it would represent a political statement.
LGBTQ + activists and Munich city council demanded action for Germany’s Euro 2020 game against Hungary on Tuesday after controversial legislation passed by Hungary’s parliament banning LGBTQ + content to minors .
In a statement on Tuesday, UEFA said the action would signal a political message and suggest alternative dates.
“UEFA, by its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organization. Given the political context of this specific request – a message aimed at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament – UEFA must decline this request,” said the press release.
“UEFA has nevertheless proposed to the city of Munich to light up the stadium in the colors of the rainbow either on June 28 – Christopher Street Liberation Day – or between July 3 and 9 which is the week of Christopher Street Day in Munich. “
Pressure on UEFA
For Hungary’s largest LGBTQ + organization, the Hatter Society, the support would have been a major boost.
“As [Viktor] Orban and [his ruling party] Fidesz injected endless money into football, trying to revive it as a source of national pride, having to enter a stadium illuminated in the colors of the rainbow would be quite ironic, “said one spokesperson, referring to more than 2 billion euros ($ 2.4 billion) invested in football infrastructure in Hungary by the government since 2010.
“We have enjoyed immense support from international bodies, but that would be a clear sign of solidarity.”
Family is Family has launched a campaign – # nemvagyegyedÃ¼l (#youarenotalone) – to support LGBTQ + people after the new legislation was passed in Hungary. They hoped for the same manifestation of solidarity.
“A similar message from UEFA or the players could mean the world to a lot of people,” a spokesperson told DW.
“It sends the message that it is okay to be a member of the LGBTQI community.”
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said it was “dangerous” to mix sport and politics.
Sport and politics
Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto defended the new law on Monday and said sporting events had nothing to do with national law.
“We passed this law to protect Hungarian children and Western Europe is now fighting against it,” he said. “I find it harmful and dangerous to confuse politics and sport. Historical experience shows it. If anyone, the Germans know for sure.”
Germany international Leon Goretzka, meanwhile, spoke in favor of the stadium lighting, saying it was a “great idea”.
His team captain, Manuel Neuer, wore a rainbow-colored captain’s armband during the July pride festivities, which have been the subject of a UEFA investigation. The investigation concluded that the armband is a “symbol of diversity and therefore a good cause” and does not violate UEFA rules regarding “political symbols” which are prohibited and generally result in a fine for the national association.
Manuel Neuer will once again wear a rainbow captain’s armband.
Homophobia in football
CSD Deutschland, which acts as the umbrella organization for all Christopher Street Day associations in Germany, wanted to see a “clear position” from the DFB and UEFA.
Board member Kai BÃ¶lle pointed out that professional football still has a problem with homophobia through “shame, chants, insults and exclusion”, and that athletes and organizations have a problem. -form to make a difference.
“To date, there are only openly gay professional athletes once their careers are over,” he said.
âNo one is taking that riskâ¦ it suggests it’s not a safe place. While there is support, you don’t know if it really is. That’s why it’s all the more so. important that the players, the players of the national team and the associations take a stand. “
The Hatter Society echoed these views.
âUnfortunately, most professional sports have a lot of racism, sexism and homophobia that they need to tackle,â the spokesperson said.
“Campaigns like Rainbow Shoelaces or Knee Grip go a long way, as they raise awareness of social issues and can reach audiences that activists can rarely reach.”
In February of this year, more than 800 German male and female footballers pledged to support all gay footballers as part of the “Ihr kÃ¶nnt auf uns zÃ¤hlen” (“You can count on us”) campaign run by the magazine de soccer. 11Freunde.
More action needed
For CSD Deutschland, there is still a long way to go when it comes to professional sport supporting LGBTQ + rights. A symbol of solidarity in the Germany-Hungary game on Wednesday would have been a promising start.
BÃ¶lle predicted that UEFA would likely reject the proposal.
“DFB say they have a hard time in this situation because this is a European Championship and because UEFA sets the framework,” BÃ¶lle said ahead of the UEFA decision.
“There probably won’t be any great action [at the game]. But we hope that conditions will slowly change in professional sport. “