Currently Europe’s attention is focused on the continent’s football championship, pitting country against country in matches hosted by various cities. On Wednesday Germany will host Hungary in Munich for a match that will decide which country’s team will advance to the next stage, and the mayor of Munich yesterday asked the governing body of the European football association permission to have its stadium emblazoned in the colors of the gay pride flag.
Traditionally all political statements and demonstrations are banned in UEFA matches, but this championship season has seen a pronounced uptick in defiance by both players and governments hosting the games.
First of all, Germany’s goalkeeper donned a rainbow arm patch in support of “diversity” which raised eyebrows (but no official sanction from the UEFA, which they deemed a “positive message”).
UEFA have today shared with the DFB that they have stopped the review of the rainbow captain's armband worn by @Manuel_Neuer.
— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 20, 2021
This was followed by players taking a knee in support of Black Lives Matter. This stirred a debate within France as to whether this should be discouraged, since racism and France’s colonial past is a sensitive subject for the (white) cultural elites. When Belgium’s team took a knee in their match against Russia, it warmed everyone’s heart and Twitter responded favorably —
Now the Social Democrat Mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, has joined the political theater of the tournament. As reported in Euronews:
Mayor Dieter Reiter confirmed on Sunday that he was going to write to UEFA to ask for permission to fill the Allianz Arena with colour on Wednesday in a show of solidarity with the LGBT community.
The city council wants to take a public stand against a law passed by the Hungarian parliament on Tuesday that took all mention of gay and trans issues off the school curriculum.
People are also barred from sharing any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment with under-18s. The law has been denounced as discriminatory by human rights groups.
In its application, the council accused Hungary “of following the example of Russia’s homophobic and transphobic legislation”.
But France24 is reporting this morning that this request has been denied by UEFA:
UEFA on Tuesday rejected plans by the city of Munich to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for the Germany-Hungary Euro 2020 match in support of the LGBT community and to protest at a law passed by the Hungarian government.
“UEFA is a politically and religiously neutral organisation,” said European football’s governing body 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.”
Despite the politics, the tournament is a way for fans and players to laugh —
Barella 🤡 vs Locatelli 🤬 pic.twitter.com/FGQTEXA1ys
— Vince Van Genechten 🇮🇹 (@VVGenechten) June 20, 2021