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UEFA rejects rainbow illumination as 'political content'

DW, 22 Jun 2021
European football's governing body UEFA has declined a request to allow Munich's Allianz Arena to be illuminated in rainbow colors in support of LGBTQ+ rights, saying it would represent a political statement.

LGBTQ+ activists and the Munich City Council had requested the action for Germany's Euro 2020 match against Hungary on Wednesday, after controversial legislation was passed through the Hungarian parliament banning LGBTQ+ content for minors.

In a statement on Tuesday, UEFA said the action would have signaled a political message and suggested alternative dates. "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 statement read. "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 Christopher Street Day week in Munich."

Several German politicans have reacted with dissapointment to UEFA's decision, including Bavarian State Premier Markus Söder. "It's a shame that Munich’s stadium won't be allowed to light up in rainbow colours," he said. "That would have been a very good sign for tolerance and freedom."

Meanwhile, Germany team captain Manuel Neuer will continue to wear a rainbow-colored captain's armband, which was subject to a UEFA investigation. In contrast to its ruling on lighting up the Allianz Arena, that investigation concluded that the armband is a "symbol of diversity and thus a good cause" and therefore does not fall foul of UEFA's rules around "political symbols" which are forbidden and usually results in a fine for the national association.

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