UEFA defends decision to deny request for rainbow lights at soccer stadium

UEFA defends decision to deny request for rainbow lights at soccer stadium
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The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) defended its decision to deny the request for a rainbow lights display at a German soccer stadium to celebrate Pride Month. 

In a statement, UEFA said they fully support the wearing of LGBT rainbow colors, adding that their decision to deny the Munich council's request wasn’t “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,” UEFA said in their statement. “For UEFA, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society.”

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UEFA shared on Tuesday that they received Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter’s request to light the city's soccer stadium with the Pride flag. The display would have appeared when Germany played Hungary in protest of the Hungarian government's new law that prohibits sharing any content that portrays homosexuality or gender reassignment with minors. 

UEFA said at the time that they denied the request because of the “political context."

Reiter said on Tuesday that UEFA’s decision was “shameful,” adding that Munich will raise rainbows flags over the city hall and have the Munich stadium’s wind turbine and the city’s Olympic Tower illuminated in rainbow colors in protest of the decision. 

Clubs from the German soccer league Bundesliga and various soccer stars including French and FC Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann showed their support in protest of UEFA denying Reiter’s request. 

UEFA recently ended their investigation of German national team captain Manuel Neuer’s rainbow armband that he wore for the first two matches of the tournament. 

Germany is set to play Hungary in the final group stage match in the UEFA European Championship tournament on Wednesday.