UEFA receives letter from over 20 LGBTQ+ fan groups 'demanding action' over Munich decision
Opposition is growing to the organisation's decisions in recent days
UEFA has received a letter of concern from more than 20 LGBTQ+ groups across Europe in response to the body's decision to not allow the Allianz Arena to be lit up in the rainbow colours when it hosts Germany vs Hungary on Wednesday evening.
Along with criticising the decision to block the gesture - which was proposed by Munich authorities in protest against recent anti-LGBTQ+ laws passed in Hungary - the letter also mentions concerns over rising homophobia in European football.
The letter warns that European football's governing body has a duty to ensure that "actions of inclusion and solidarity are not prevented, and that action on homophobia and LGBTIQ exclusion matches the words of campaigns and pledges."
The controversy over UEFA's approach to tackling homophobia and discrimination in football escalated after they blocked a request from the Mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiterhad, to have the Allianz Arena lit up in the colours of the rainbow flag during the national side's Group F clash with Hungary.
UEFA blocked the gesture though, because of its "political context" as it was in response to actions by the Hungarian government. Laws were recently passed in Hungary banning the circulation of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality, as well as a ban on any LGBTQ+ people appearing on kids television
After UEFA's disgraceful decision to stop the German national side's stadium from being lit up, a clear and united message has been sent back to UEFA from German football. A number of Bundesliga sides have said that they will be lighting up their stadiums during the game, and the German FA has also announced that 10,000 rainbow flags will be handed out to fans at the Hungary game.
— Hertha Berlin (@HerthaBSC_EN) June 22, 2021
What does the letter say?
Now, LGBTQ+ groups across the continent have sent a letter directly to UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin, expressing their concern and upset at the events of recent days.
Leading groups from England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Turkey, Russia, Hungary, Poland and Finland have united for the letter, together representing over 50,000 people across Europe.
According to The Athletic, the letter raises "general concerns at the rise of homophobia in football in many countries within UEFA jurisdiction in recent years and also about the Euro 2020 tournament." It also mentions reports of homophobic songs, chants and banners at Hungary's previous group games in Budapest.
The letter raises "general concerns at the rise of homophobia in football in many countries within UEFA jurisdiction in recent years and also about the Euro 2020 tournament."
It adds: "Most notably we have been concerned by the manner in which supporters in Hungary have been using their government’s legislative framework to sing songs and raise banners mocking and denying the rights of the LGBTQ+ community to exist."
The letter goes on to say criticise UEFA's decision to block the rainbow lighting of the Allianz Arena, arguing that supportive messages for oppressed minority communities should not be compared to the political decisions that repress LGBTQ+ communities in Hungary.
The groups write: "It is certainly not an act on equal terms with the prohibitive and exclusionary legislation of the Hungarian government. To make an equivalence between the two positions and reduce this to a political row is quite simply wrong.
"We have noted the UEFA commitment to your own Equal Game campaign; this is an opportunity to put that campaign into practice. We urge UEFA to do more, to work with partners, such as the Fare network and those of us among this grouping with an international remit, to ensure that actions of inclusion and solidarity are not prevented, and that action on homophobia and LGBTQ+ exclusion matches the words of campaigns and pledges."