A major ideological conflict has broken out between Hungarian and German officials over Hungary’s new bill on “promoting or displaying homosexuality” in media. Even executives of the European Council are voicing their opinions on the issue. The heightened tension follows the Union of European Football Associations’ (UEFA) decision to reject the request of the Allianz Arena in Munich to be lit up in the colors of the rainbow for its Hungary-German Euro 2020 match on Wednesday evening. Appearing to turn from its original stance of non-involvement, however, UEFA recently made an Instagram post promoting the rainbow flag, arguing that it is not a political statement.
While the national teams of Hungary and Germany will face off in Munich on Wednesday night, the two countries’ political officials are already facing off over social media. UEFA’s decision not to allow the Munich stadium to be lit up with the colors of the rainbow for its Hungary-Germany football match did not bring an end to the ideological debate around Hungary’s new law impacting the LGBTQ community, it only added fuel to the fire.
German Officials Disappointed with UEFA Decision
Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder said on Tuesday that the rainbow illumination of the stadium would have been the sign of tolerance and freedom.
Germany’s European Affairs Minister Michael Roth stated the decision was “bitter, but expected.” He told fans, “Set an example for diversity and solidarity with LGBTI people in Hungary and all over Europe! LGBTI rights are human rights!”
Secretary General of the Christian Democratic Union of Germany Paul Ziemiak believes UEFA brought an incorrect and disappointing decision, adding that it makes UEFA’s former campaigns against racism and discrimination “meaningless.”
European Commission Does Not Understand UEFA’s Motives
Not just German politicians, but the European Commission also believes UEFA made the wrong decision. Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas said that he finds it “difficult to understand what UEFA is trying to do by going against this initiative of the Munich City Council.
UEFA themselves were with us at the forefront of campaigns for inclusion, anti-racism, they helped us on vaccination (…) and all of a sudden they make an issue out of this.”
German and Hungarian Stadiums Take Symbolic Sides
While the Allianz Arena will not be lit up with the colors of the rainbow, multiple other football stadiums in Germany have announced that they will be taking part in the initiative since they are not under the jurisdiction of UEFA. These include Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, the RheinEnergieStadion in Cologne, the Deutsche Bank Park and the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg.
In Hungary, however, a Ferencváros TC fan club known as the Green Monsters made a public request to Gábor Kubatov, president of the football club and party director of ruling Fidesz, to light up the Groupama Arena in the colors of the national flag.
We completely distance ourselves from every kind of propaganda of this sort in a sporting event as historical and prestigious as the European Football Championship. These things have no place here, but the national colors do!”
Kubatov obliged, with the simple response of “naturally. The homeland comes before everything else.”
PM Viktor Orbán: Hungary Actively Protects Homosexual Rights
Hungarian government officials seem satisfied with UEFA’s decision not to illuminate the Munich stadium with the LGBTQ flag. Fidesz MEP Tamás Deutsch sent a satirical message to the city’s mayor stating that illuminating the stadium with the colors of the rainbow is nothing, but changing the German flag to one that is the color of the rainbow would be something else.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán requested the German politicians to accept the UEFA decision, since “it is not a state’s decision whether the stadium in Munich or any European stadium is lit up in the colors of the rainbow.”
According to German news sources, the Hungarian prime minister will not be attending the match in person.
UEFA Takes a 180 Turn on Rainbow Flags
Following extensive criticism, and possibly feeling that it made the wrong decision towards the Munich arena, UEFA placed its logo into a rainbow background on its social media pages. The organization clarified that it does not consider the rainbow a political symbol but rather a sign of inclusivity and diversity.
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The post added that the LGBTQ flag “is a symbol that embodies our core values, promoting everything that we believe in – a more just and egalitarian society, tolerant of everyone, regardless of their background, belief or gender.”
Some people have interpreted UEFA’s decision to turn down the city of Munich’s request to illuminate the Munich stadium in rainbow colours for a EURO 2020 match as ‘political’. On the contrary, the request itself was political, linked to the Hungarian football team’s presence in the stadium for this evening’s match with Germany.”
Featured photo via Allianz Arena’s Facebook page