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UEFA turn down request for stadium to be lit up in rainbow colours in protest against Hungary’s anti-gay policy

FOOTBALL By Reuters | June 22nd 2021
Munich's City Council want the Allianz Arena to look like this on Wednesday nightCredit: Getty

UEFA have turned down a request from the mayor of Munich for the city's stadium to be lit up in rainbow colours for Wednesday's Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary.

Munich mayor Dieter Reiter had said he wanted to light up the stadium in the colours in protest against a new law in Hungary that bans the dissemination of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change.

The stadium, known as the Allianz Arena, home to Bayern Munich, is configured to allow the entire external area and roofing to be lit up in various colours.

In a statement, UEFA suggested alternative dates for the gesture during the tournament.

"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," the organisation said in a statement on Tuesday.

"UEFA has nevertheless proposed to the city of Munich to illuminate the stadium with the rainbow colours on either 28 June – the Christopher Street Liberation Day - or between 3 and 9 July which is the Christopher Street Day week in Munich."

June 19, 2021 Germany's Manuel Neuer applauds fans after the match Pool via REUTERS

Christopher Street Day events are held in memory of an uprising by homosexuals in New York in 1969.

The German Football Association (DFB) had said on Monday that it would also prefer any protest or gesture to be held on another date than Wednesday's game.

The Hungarian foreign minister Peter Szijjarto said on Monday that "mixing politics and sport" was "harmful and dangerous".

"There have been some attempts to do this in world history and those ended very badly," he told reporters.

"Everyone knows what this is about, we in Hungary passed a law in order to protect Hungarian children and there is protest against this in Western Europe and they also try to express it by trying to bring politics into a sport event when that sport event has nothing to do with the national legislature," he said.

"I think this does a lot of harm, experience from history shows that this is wrong, and I think the Germans know this, if anyone, they certainly know this very well. So, mixing sports and politics is wrong,"he added.

UEFA said it was involved in a number of campaigns around diversity and inclusion "to promote the ethos that football should be open to everyone".

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