UEFA brake on Allianz Arena rainbow plans


Olympic Tower Munich will shine in rainbow colors instead of Allianz Arena Image: Olympiapark Muenchen

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has said a stern ‘no’ and nixed the City of Munich (Germany) plans to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors for the July 23rd Euro 2020 group stage match between Germany and Hungary.

The Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter put up a request on behalf of the City Council before the UEFA in this regard on June 21st that he wanted to illuminate the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors for the above fixture. However, UEFA was in no mood to grant the request and said that Reiter’s request was submitted in response to a “political decision” taken by the Hungarian Parliament.

The ‘UEFA’ stated that a new law in Hungary bans the sharing of any content that is seen to promote homosexuality and gender change to people under the age of 18. June is Pride month (Gay pride or LGBT pride) and Reiter’s plans to illuminate the Allianz Arena were designed to give an “important and visible sign of solidarity” towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) community in Hungary.

Moreover, UEFA is in a position to take the above decision as it has rented the Allianz Arena for the European Soccer Championship event.

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

Euro 2020 presently underway is the 16th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men’s football championship of Europe organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It is being held from June 11th and will conclude on July 11th, 2021.

Allianz Arena is a football stadium in Munich, Bavaria, Germany with a 70,000 seating capacity for international matches and 75,000 for domestic matches. Widely known for its exterior of inflated ETFE plastic panels, it is the first stadium in the world with a full color changing exterior.

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is the administrative body for football, futsal and beach soccer in Europe. It is one of six continental confederations of world football’s governing body FIFA. UEFA consists of 55 national association members.

The ‘UEFA’ further said in a statement that it understands that the Munich Mayor’s intention is also to send a message to promote diversity and inclusion – a cause, which UEFA has been supporting for many years having joined forces with European clubs, national teams and their players, launching campaigns and plenty of activities all over Europe to promote the ethos that football should be open to everyone and consequently UEFA has proposed alternative dates for the illumination which align better with existing events.

UEFA said that it is determined to play its part in positive change and believes that discrimination can only be fought in close collaboration with others. As European football’s governing body, UEFA recognizes it has an obligation to unite and coordinate the efforts of fans and institutions across Europe – because it is everybody’s responsibility to rid discrimination from the game.

Very recently, in the build-up towards the UEFA EURO 2020 tournament, UEFA has kicked off a new campaign called ‘Sign for an Equal Game’ encouraging fans, players, clubs, national associations, and other football stakeholders to join the fight against discrimination. ‘Sign for an Equal Game’ forms the latest installment of the Equal Game campaign, which has run for the past four seasons and which aims to create positive social impact under UEFA’s overarching value of Respect. Its main purpose is to make people aware that football is for everyone, no matter who they are, where they are from and how they play.

The UEFA statement read, “Racism, homophobia, sexism, and all forms of discrimination are a stain on our societies – and represent one of the biggest problems faced by the game today. Discriminatory behavior has marred both matches themselves and, outside the stadiums, the online discourse around the sport we love.”

However UEFA, through its statutes, is a politically and religiously neutral organization. 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.

Germany captain Manuel Neuer wore a rainbow armband during his country’s 4-2 win against Portugal on June 19th. UEFA had been investigating whether his actions could be viewed as a political statement but Neuer was ultimately spared disciplinary action.

Ahead of the release of UEFA’s above statement, the board spokesman for Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt called on stadia across Germany to illuminate in rainbow colors if the Allianz Arena was not able to do so.

Eintracht Frankfurt CEO Axel Hellman tweeted that Eintracht’s home – the 51,500-capacity Deutsche Bank Park in Frankfurt (Germany) would switch to rainbow colors for the June 23rd fixture and is urging other venues to follow suit.

“If Munich is not allowed to be on Wednesday, then the other stadiums in the country have to show their colors,” Hellman asserted.

Munich livid

‘TZ’ stated that the Munich Mayor Reiter was breathing fire over UEFA’s above decision and stated, “It is pathetic that one cannot set an example for diversity, tolerance, respect, and solidarity.”

The UEFA decision also got the goat of several German politicians.

‘TZ’ further stated that Mayor Reiter was not going to take things lying down and has instead decided to illuminate other buildings in Munich on Wednesday in rainbow colors like the Olympic Tower within the Olympic Park in Munich.

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