‘Shameful’: UEFA rejects rainbow stadium

‘Shameful’: UEFA rejects rainbow stadium

German football clubs are banding together to display rainbow colours during the country’s match against Hungary at the European Championship after UEFA rejected host city Munich’s plan to do the same.

Bundesliga clubs in Bremen, Frankfurt, Cologne, Wolfsburg, Augsburg and the two in Berlin will light up their venues during Wednesday’s final group game in Munich in response to UEFA’s decision to deny the city council’s application to have its stadium illuminated in rainbow colours.

UEFA, the governing body of European football, has the final say as tournament organiser. It said in a statement Tuesday that it understood the intention behind the council’s proposal but “must decline this request” because of its political context — “a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament.”

Munich’s stadium illuminated in rainbow colours for Christopher Street Day in 2016. (Tobias Hase/dpa via AP) (AP)

Munich mayor Dieter Reiter’s application on behalf of the council made clear it wanted to protest a law passed by Hungarian lawmakers last week that prohibits sharing with minors any content portraying homosexuality or sex reassignment.

The law was denounced as anti-LGBTQI+ discrimination by human rights groups.

Reiter described UEFA’s decision as “shameful” and said it was “very disappointing” the German football federation failed to give the city’s proposal more support.

Federation spokesman Jens Grittner suggested Monday it might be an option to display the colours in the days after Hungary’s visit. Munich will host a quarter-final match at Euro 2020 on July 2.

“A laughable counter-proposal,” Reiter said.

“I don’t know what the point of this proposal is supposed to be.”

The mayor said he expected to raise rainbow flags over city hall and have a wind turbine near the stadium, with the city’s Olympic Tower illuminated in rainbow colours, too.

Kai Havertz of Germany celebrates after scoring his side’s third goal against Portugal. (Getty)

“We in Munich certainly won’t let ourselves be discouraged from sending a clear signal to Hungary and the world,” Reiter said.

Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó criticised the German position on Monday.

“In Hungary we have passed a law to protect Hungarian children, and now in western Europe they are griping about it,” he said in Luxembourg.

“They want to express this by including politics in a sporting event, which has nothing to do with the passing of national laws.”

UEFA said it believed “discrimination can only be fought in close collaboration with others”.

It proposed Munich illuminate the stadium with the rainbow colours on June 28 for Christopher Street Day — an annual celebration in support of gay rights — or from July 3-9 for the Christopher Street Day week in the city.

The body said these dates “align better with existing events.”

Germany’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer walks on the pitch during group F match against Portugal. (Philipp Guelland/Pool via AP) (AP)

But the delayed action undermines Munich’s planned protest against what it calls “the homophobic and transphobic legislation of the Hungarian government.”

Hungary’s National Assembly approved the bill against sharing LGBT content with minors in a 157-1 vote last week, when one independent lawmaker voted against it and all other opposition parties boycotted the voting session in protest.

“This legislation represents a new mark in the invisibility and disenfranchisement of lesbians, gays, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) and adds to the systematic restriction of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms that have been practised for years in Hungary,” the Munich council said in its application, which had cross-party support.

UEFA said it understood the council’s intention to send a message to promote diversity and inclusion but stressed that it was “a politically and religiously neutral organisation.”

Michael Roth, Germany’s minister for Europe, said UEFA’s decision was “bitter, but expected” and he called for fans attending the game to show their colours in the stadium.

Plans for other stadiums, where the tournament is not being played, to be illuminated with rainbow colours quickly gathered support on Tuesday.

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