By Hannah Claire Brimelow
Field advertisements that use the LGBTQ+ rainbow are not permitted at the quarter-finals set to take place in Russia and Azerbaijan, announced the Union of European Football Association.
The administrative body has been underfired this month because it “denied a request from local authorities in Munich to light up the stadium in rainbow colors when Germany hosted Hungary in the group stage,” reports AP News.
Dieter Reiter, Munich’s mayor who made the request, denounced the decision as “shameful.”
Defending its choice, the UEFA expressed its desire to stay politically neutral. The organization said that “the request itself was political, linked to the Hungarian football team’s presence in the stadium for this evening’s match with Germany.”
Under a new law in Hungary, it is illegal to share content that promotes homosexuality or gender reassignment to anyone under the age of 18.
The nation’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, a populist and former professional soccer player, “has been challenging the European consensus ever since he returned to power in 2010: frequently criticizing multiculturalism, curtailing media freedoms, and relentlessly campaigning against the EU itself, portraying Brussels as a modern heir to Soviet Moscow, which dominated Hungary for decades,” Fox News notes.
Orbán is credited with flooding his country’s soccer industry with $2.7 billion by letting a business’s donations to sports clubs replace corporate taxes.
Soccer matches are centers of political controversy for Hungarians, seemingly battlegrounds for citizens to define the nations values. Earlier in the tournament, Hungarian fans booed Irish players who knelt in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The fans were supported by Prime Minster Orbán who said “Hungarians only kneel before God, their country, and their lovers.”
He added “politics has no place in sports.”
Ahead of the games in St Petersburg and Baku, the UEFA required sponsor artwork to comply with local laws. Both Russia and Azerbaijan are less liberal than other European counties regarding LGBTQ+ issues.
Volkswagon, a sponsor of Euro 2020, stated “the rainbow boards would be used ‘as a colourful statement of diversity and respect’ at the other quarter-finals in Munich and Rome, and hoped to also use them at the remaining games at Wembley,” according to PA Media.
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