No rainbow stadium in Munich: a missed opportunity?

The Allianz stadium in Munich was not lit up in rainbow colours when Germany played against Hungary on Wednesday. Munich's mayor had written to the Uefa president asking for the stadium to be lit up as a "highly visible signal of our common understanding of values", but Uefa refused. The press continues to debate the decision even after the match.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

A grandiose own goal

Uefa's refusal has backfired, Berlin correspondent Paolo Valentino in Corriere della Sera comments with satisfaction:

“With its refusal to light up the Allianz Arena in the colours of the rainbow, the European football association has triggered the very storm it had been trying to avoid. ... The eternal hypocrisy of European sport, which thinks it can ignore politics, is demonstrated here in its true colours. The rainbow-coloured German republic has hoisted its flags. A wave of protest is rolling across the country, on social media and in politics, while many German stadiums and town halls were lit up last night with the insignia of the LGBT movement.”

Kurier (AT) /

Stand up for basic rights

Kurier also believes that a sign of protest against legislation that violates human rights in Hungary would have been possible:

“Of course sport is political, and it should be for the right cause. Stars are role models for millions and can draw attention to problematic issues. ... If Uefa had allowed the rainbow, that wouldn't mean that it shares every radical idea of the LGBTIQ movement. ... But you have to send a signal against concrete laws that negate fundamental rights. Therefore it [would have been] right to protest explicitly against Hungary. ... But because good usually triumphs, Uefa's cowardice has brought the debate about the law of shame into the spotlight.”

Magyar Nemzet (HU) /

Germans compensating for the past

The strong reaction in Germany has to do with the fact that for many years homosexuality was a punishable crime there, the pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet claims:

“The last discriminatory passages were only removed from German law in 1994. ... Because the repayment of this old debt to homosexuals is still in full swing, Germany obviously opposes any - literally any - decision in social policy (including education) that hurts the interests of the LGBTQ community. ... If Germany and the EU didn't only take the rainbow version of diversity seriously, they would accept that we can disagree on certain issues.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

The rainbow is not political

Gazeta Wyborcza laments Uefa's decision:

“By refusing to light up the stadium in Munich, Uefa is losing the battle for respect and diversity. The rainbow was not a political symbol until the populists made it one. The fight for equality in a democratic Europe is not a political act. It is the norm and the duty of everyone who loves democracy and freedom.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

With the flick of a switch

Uefa has brought this on itself, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung sighs:

“No Uefa broadcast in club football passes without the mantra-like invocation of respect and the rejection of racism. ... But there is still no clear line on how to convey political messages in the stadium. So the associations are in a dilemma. They have needlessly pressed ahead with the moral acidification of the sporting world. ... After all, it doesn't cost much to criticise Hungary's government for its homophobia. ... With a flick of the switch, the stadium lights up in all the colours of the rainbow. In this way the arena can become the scene of political battles - no matter from which side - on any occasion.”

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (DE) /

Euro 2020 isn't a reform school

Whether it's for a good cause or not, good form must be respected in sport in particular, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung opines:

“If Hungary has qualified for the European Championship, it must be treated like all the other participants. People can make their opinion known to Orbán during the event. But when an action is specifically directed against Hungarian policies - and thus against the whole country - the question of whether the host stadium can be lit up in rainbow colours is more than a matter of taste. ... Ultimately, it amounts to an official politicisation of the event. Plenty of people have lots to criticise about Poland, Germany and England, too. But the very thing about sports that binds nations would be lost. Euro 2021 is not a reform school.”

Magyar Hang (HU) /

An understandable idea, but unfair

Magyar Hang also finds that lighting up the Munich Arena with the rainbow colours would have been unfair to the people of Hungary:

“Neither the fans who travel to this match nor the Hungarians in general are to blame for the government's homophobic legislation. There are a lot of people who don't agree with the homophobic sections of the law. ... But we Hungarians can all understand that people find our country shameful after all the talk across Europe in recent weeks about Hungarian legislation being similar to that of Putin's Russia.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

Brussels is the more important arena

There are other options for putting pressure on the Orbán regime, NRC Handelsblad explains:

“It's a pity that Uefa doesn't dare to make a statement. ... Fortunately, there is another stage for sending a message to Orbán about his toxic law: the EU summit in Brussels [at the end of June]. ... Patience with the authoritarian governments in Warsaw and Budapest is at an end in Western Europe. ... On Tuesday several foreign ministers drafted a joint statement in which they condemned the Hungarian law in harsh terms. ... The European Parliament plans to go to court to push for [the mechanism for punishing countries that violate the rule of law] to be introduced more quickly. It would be good if the heads of government also pushed for this.”