Uefa draws criticism after blocking plans to light up Allianz Arena in rainbow colours

In this file photo taken on January 30, 2021 traffic passes the Allianz Arena illuminated in the rainbow colours after the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Bayern Munich v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Munich, southern Germany - ANDREAS GEBERT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

In this file photo taken on January 30, 2021 traffic passes the Allianz Arena illuminated in the rainbow colours after the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Bayern Munich v TSG 1899 Hoffenheim in Munich, southern Germany – ANDREAS GEBERT/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Uefa has been criticised by its own anti-discrimination partner for blocking plans to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Germany’s European Championship match against Hungary.

European football’s governing body refused a request by the mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, to allow the display in response to the Hungarian parliament outlawing the sharing of information considered to promote homosexuality or non-binary gender identities among under-18s.

Uefa said: “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 Hungarian national parliament – Uefa must decline this request.”

But Piara Powar, executive director of the Fare Network, which partners with Uefa in its anti-discrimination work, told Telegraph Sport: “The Uefa argument has some holes in it, quite frankly.”

He added: “The issue that hasn’t been considered is that the position taken by the Munich mayor and his authority is one that is pro-human rights and for the inclusion of the LGBTQI community and to counter homophobia.”

In response to Uefa’s decision, Hungary’s foreign minister, Peter Szijjarto, said: “Thank God that, in the circles of European football leadership, common sense still prevails and they did not play along with the political provocation. Uefa made the right decision.”

Uefa made the decision despite having previously ruled Germany would face no action over captain Manuel Neuer’s wearing of a rainbow armband during Euro 2020 games because he had been “promoting a good cause, i.e. diversity”.

 Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer walks on the pitch during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group F match between Portugal and Germany at the Football Arena stadium in Munich, Germany, Saturday, June 19, 2021 - Philipp Guelland/Pool via AP Germany's goalkeeper Manuel Neuer walks on the pitch during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group F match between Portugal and Germany at the Football Arena stadium in Munich, Germany, Saturday, June 19, 2021 - Philipp Guelland/Pool via AP

Germany’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer walks on the pitch during the Euro 2020 soccer championship group F match between Portugal and Germany at the Football Arena stadium in Munich, Germany, Saturday, June 19, 2021 – Philipp Guelland/Pool via AP

An ethics and disciplinary inspector was also appointed to investigate homophobic banners during Hungary’s 3-0 defeat by Portugal last Tuesday, the day the Hungarian parliament passed its draconian legislation.

The banners were reported to Uefa by Fare, which operates the governing body’s anti-discrimination monitoring system.

In its statement, Uefa suggested alternative dates for the gesture during the tournament.

“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.”

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.

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”.