UEFA defends decision not to illuminate Munich stadium in rainbow colours to show LGBT+ support

Munich’s stadium is illuminated in rainbow colors on the occasion of Christopher Street Day in Munich, Germany, Saturday, July 9, 2016. UEFA has declined the Munich city council’s application to have its stadium illuminated in rainbow colors for Germany’s final Euro 2020 group game against Hungary on Wednesday June 23, 2021. (Tobias Hase/dpa via AP)

UEFA has said it is "proud to wear the colours of the rainbow" as it defended its decision not to illuminate the Munich Euro 2020 stadium in said colours for Wednesday night’s Germany v Hungary match.

Munich mayor Dieter Reiter had requested the rainbow, a symbol of the LGBT+ community, be used to light up the stadium in response to a new law in Hungary that bans LGBT+ content in schools.UEFA rejected the request on the grounds it was political - a decision Mr Reiter branded "shameful".

Following further criticism, UEFA on Wednesday changed its Twitter avatar to rainbow colours and released a statement defending its decision.

"Today, UEFA is proud to wear the colours of the rainbow," it 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."

The statement was criticised by some on Twitter.

One user, whose tweet was liked 6000 times, wrote: "So rainbow is not a political symbol except if it offends some homophobe people? Ok UEFA."

British journalist Benjamin Butterworth wrote: "You support diversity right up to the point it means something, and then you don't.

"You prioritise avoiding vague corporate discomfort over the basic human rights of some of your own Hungarian fans."

A number of stadiums in Germany have said they will light up in rainbow colours regardless.

German news agency dpa reported the row has prompted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to cancel his trip to Munich for the match.

Mr Orban's press office is yet to confirm or deny the report.

Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during the Portugal v Germany game in Munich, as he wears a rainbow armband Credit: Philipp Guelland/Pool via AP

No 10 was asked for its reaction to the row, and whether the UK government stood with Germany and France in condemning UEFA 's decision.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: "Well, I mean, this is a government that’s immensely proud to lead a country that is progressive and liberal when it comes to LGBT equality.

"Clearly, UEFA have made a decision. But this government is proud of its record on LGBT equality."

UEFA's decision comes as the football administration on Sunday concluded Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would not face action over a rainbow armband he wore during games against France and Portugal.

Neuer wore the armband to show his support for the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month, prompting UEFA to investigate whether it could be viewed as a political statement.

But UEFA said there was no case to answer as the goalkeeper was “promoting a good cause”.