Munich (Germany) (AFP) – UEFA’s decision to block plans by Munich to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for the Germany-Hungary Euro 2020 match was met on Tuesday with defiance in the Bavarian city, which vowed to decorate other landmarks in protest at a law passed by the Hungarian government.

“UEFA is a politically and religiously neutral organisation,” European football’s governing body said in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s match.

“Given the political context of this request — a message aimed at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament — UEFA must refuse.”

Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter slammed UEFA’s decision and announced plans to decorate other city landmarks in rainbow colours in defiance.

“I find it shameful that UEFA forbids us to send a sign for cosmopolitanism, tolerance, respect and solidarity with the people of the LGBT community,” he said.

He plans to put up rainbow-coloured flags at the Munich town hall and illuminate a huge wind turbine close to the stadium, as well as the city’s 291-metre (955-foot) Olympic Tower.

Reiter had wanted the Allianz Arena — owned by Bayern Munich, but rented to UEFA for Euro 2020 — in rainbow colours for the crucial Group F match to “send a visible sign of solidarity” with Hungary’s LGBT community.

Hungary’s right-wing government last week passed a law banning the “promotion” of homosexuality to minors, outlawing any educational programmes or material in which homosexuality is mentioned.

Germany head coach Joachim Loew “would have been happy” if the stadium was lit in rainbow colours and said support of diversity in our society must be “lived”.

His opposite number, Italian coach Marco Rossi, said while such “political matters” are rarely discussed in the Hungarian squad, “we have always shown through our behaviour we respect everyone and everything”.

Germany defender Mats Hummels says that “as long as the issues are discussed in public, it’s good”.

“A player (Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib) has just come out in the NFL. That is long overdue. It shouldn’t be a big deal,” added Hummels.

UEFA’s stance drew criticism from Germany’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender community.

“We find it very disconcerting how UEFA deals with values that should generally be accepted in society,” Markus Ulrich, a spokesman for Germany’s Lesbian and Gay Association (LSVD), told AFP subsidiary SID.

“UEFA has not recognised the signs of the times — and it is clear to see which side it is taking with its decision.”

– ‘Do it, Munich’ –

Clement Beaune, France’s openly gay minister for European affairs, has also said he regretted UEFA’s stance.

Even former England captain Gary Lineker was in favour of seeing the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours.

“Do it, Munich. Do it. Light it up for the world to see. Ah, just do it anyway,” Lineker wrote on Twitter.

While the Allianz Arena will not be lit in rainbow colours on Wednesday, other football stadiums in Germany will.

Berlin’s iconic Olympic Stadium, as well as Bundesliga stadiums in Cologne, Frankfurt and Wolfsburg all plan to be colourfully lit.

However, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto hailed UEFA’s “right decision”.

“The leadership of UEFA made the right decision by not assisting in a political provocation against Hungary,” Szijjarto told AFP.

The interim president of the German FA also backed European football’s governing body.

“It is no longer a mere statement in the common fight against any form of discrimination, but a political action,” said Rainer Koch, who also sits on UEFA’s Executive Committee.

– Alternatives –

While the request for the day of the match was rejected, UEFA has suggested alternative dates of June 28, which is Christopher Street Liberation Day, an annual celebration and demonstration held in various cities across Europe, or from July 3-9, the week of pride marches in Munich.

The last European Championship match in Munich takes place on July 2.

UEFA had previously opted not to take disciplinary action against Germany skipper Manuel Neuer for wearing a rainbow-coloured captain’s armband.

Tensions are running high on and off the pitch.

Hungary need a win to reach the last 16, while hosts Germany know just a draw would secure a spot in the knockout phase.

An investigation into an allegedly homophobic banner and monkey noises at Hungary’s first two Euro matches in Budapest was opened by UEFA on Sunday.

Original Source
Author: AFP

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