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UEFA blocks rainbow display at Munich stadium during Germany and Hungary game

Exclusive: Sport figures Devin Ibañez and Ryan Atkin slam decision following introduction of Hungary's 'gay propaganda law'

By Jamie Tabberer

Words: Jamie Tabberer; pictures: Munich’s Allianz Arena (wiki)

Uefa has rejected a request to light up Munich’s Allianz Arena in rainbow colours during tomorrow’s Germany v Hungary Uefa EURO 2020 game.

The hoped-for light display follows this month’s introduction of the Hungarian government’s effective ‘gay propaganda law’ banning positive representation of LGBTQs to under 18s.

European football’s governing body received the request from Munich mayor Dieter Reiter on Monday.

In a subsequent statement, a Uefa rep said: “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 behaviour 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 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.”

“Hugely disappointing”

Responding to the news, football referee and Stonewall and Athlete Ally ambassador Ryan Atkin [below in a provided picture] told Attitude: “It is hugely disappointing that Uefa have taken this stance, but not a surprise.

“My concern has always been that, when it came time to step up against inequality, Uefa would fold. Which they did – which means that their slogan #equalgame is just that, a slogan without meaning.”

Atkin, who is gay, added: “Now – as we see increased discrimination in society – is the time for governing bodies and football associations to decide on the values they want within football and root out what is destroying the beautiful game. Racism and homophobia are not political matters.

“Racist and homophobic behaviour both inside and outside stadiums needs to be dealt with. Uefa either takes a stand or shows itself to be spineless.

“They truly underestimate the power of a visible rainbow flag and what that means to the many who feel sport is not welcoming to them or the support it does give people.

“Uefa desperately needs to tackle homophobia in football. It’s their tournament, their rules so be brave, stand tall and stand up. Brands – and their money – and the majority of fans and clubs would be fully behind you.”

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A post shared by Devin Ibañez (@thatgayrugger)

“A reminder of how complacent sports organizations are”

Devin Ibañez, Major League Rugby’s first out gay player, also told Attitude today: “Uefa deciding to step in to stop Germany from publicly displaying support for the LGBTQ+ community serves as a reminder of how complacent sports organizations are when it comes to addressing homophobia.

“This is an opportunity for UEFA sponsors to step in and hold them accountable. Sport is an important vehicle for societal change and sponsors should take this opportunity to make it clear that the actions taken by Uefa are unacceptable and harmful.”

Hungary’s new anti-LGBTQ law, proposed by the ultra-conservative and ruling Fidesz party on 10 June, amends an existing law punishing pedophilia. 

It is similar to the still-active 2013 Russian federal law “for the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating for a Denial of Traditional Family Values”, which effectively bans positive representation of LGBTQ life to minors.

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