UEFA infuriates Guy Verhofstadt: Belgian MEP calls on Munich mayor to light up stadium

UEFA ‘think they run the country’ says Richard Tice

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UEFA has refused a request from Munich’s mayor for the stadium to be lit in rainbow colours for Germany’s Euro 2020 match against Hungary on Wednesday in protest of an anti-LGBTQ law. The decision infuriated Belgian MEP Guy Verhodstadt who has repeatedly come after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The Hungarian leader has fought against what he believes is a politicisation of the sporting event.

But Mr Verhofstadt urged Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter to defy UEFA and light the stadium regardless.

He blasted: “Viktor Orbán decides what colours light up Munich football stadium now, UEFA?

“Time to practice the values you preach! #LightUpMunich”

The Belgian politician went on to retweet Gary Lineker’s words.

The former footballer wrote: “Do it Munich. Do it. Light it up for the world to see.”

Mr Reiter wanted to highlight legislation in Hungary banning school materials deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change and restricting the media from showing such content in programmes accessible to minors.

The Allianz Arena, home to Bayern Munich, is configured to allow the exterior and roofing to be lit up in colours.

But European football’s governing body declined the request, offering instead alternative dates.

It 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 the Hungarian national parliament, UEFA must decline this request.”

UEFA proposed alternative dates for Munich of June 28 or between July 3-9 around Christopher Street Day events held in memory of an uprising by homosexuals in New York in 1969.

There was widespread criticism of its decision in Germany.

Bavarian premier Markus Soeder said lighting the stadium would have been a great gesture against discrimination, while Munich mayor Reiter said the German Football Association (DFB) should have shown more solidarity with public opinion.

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Mr Reiter added: “I think it is shameful that UEFA denies us making a mark for diversity, tolerance and solidarity.”

The DFB had also backed making the gesture on a different date.

Germany coach Joachim Loew said he would have welcomed the move.

He told a news conference: “I would have been happy if the stadium had been lit up in these colours.

“As serious as symbols are, it is important that we live these values.

“In our team, this is the case.”

Budapest Pride organisers said they expected alternative plans from their partner group in Munich.

They said: “Munich LGBTQ organisations are preparing for the Germany-Hungary match on Wednesday with a huge action, they will hand out 11,000 rainbow flags in and around the stadium.”

Asked about the issue, Hungary coach Marco Rossi said the national team never discussed politics in the locker room.

He added: “We are human and we are all sensitive to social matters.

“But I believe that we have always shown, through our behaviour, that we all respect everyone and everything.”

Hungarian national team goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi, who plays in Germany for RB Leipzig, had expressed opposition to Prime Minister Orban’s government’s policies towards the LGBTQ community earlier this year.

But speaking to the media in Munich before the match, he was circumspect.

He said: “UEFA made this decision, we have no say in it.

“We focus on the match now, not this.”

Germany’s Europe Minister Michael Roth told reporters ahead of a meeting with European Union counterparts in Luxembourg on Tuesday that Hungary’s law violates EU values.

Hungary’s Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto, however, welcomed UEFA’s ruling.

He 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.”

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