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UEFA defends decision to decline request for rainbow-illuminated Allianz Arena

The Hungarian government has been widely criticised.

UEFA has defended its decision to decline a request to illuminate the Munich Euro 2020 stadium in rainbow colours for Wednesday night’s match between Germany and Hungary.

It says the request from Munich mayor Dieter Reiter was rejected because it was political, and made in response to legislation in Hungary banning the display and promotion of homosexuality to under-18s.

Reiter described UEFA’s decision to block the request as “shameful” on Tuesday and said other city landmarks would display rainbow colours instead.

UEFA’s Twitter avatar was altered to rainbow colours on Wednesday, and it released a statement which read: “Today, UEFA is proud to wear the colours of the rainbow.

“It 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.

“For UEFA, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society.”

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer said on Tuesday he would have liked his club’s stadium to be illuminated in this way for the match, adding: “Open-mindedness and tolerance are fundamental values that our society and FC Bayern stand for.”

Other Bundesliga clubs such as Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig expressed their support for the LGBTQI+ movement in social media posts on Wednesday, while so too did Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, who are involved in a legal battle with UEFA over their involvement in the Super League earlier this year.

Munich’s town hall has rainbow flags flying outside it, and the city mayor said on Tuesday that local officials planned to illuminate the wind turbine adjacent to the stadium and the Olympic tower in rainbow colours.

“I find it shameful that UEFA forbids us to send a message here in Munich for openness, tolerance, respect and solidarity with the LGBTQI + community,” Reiter said in a statement.

“I am also very disappointed that the DFB (the German football association), despite the unbelievably clear positioning here in Munich, in Bavaria and also in Germany, has not achieved or wanted to achieve anything.”

The Hungarian bill has been criticised by the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von Der Leyen, who said it “goes against the fundamental principles of the European Union” and warned the commission would use all its powers to protect the rights of EU citizens.

Groups from across Europe supporting the LGBTQI+ community, including Pride In Football and Football v Homophobia, have written to UEFA protesting against its decision.

Pride In Football board member Rishi Madlani told talkSPORT: “We want them to meet with us, we want them to learn. Unfortunately the governance of football is not fit for purpose and needs to wake up to ensuring human rights, everyone’s rights.

“This was a real opportunity for UEFA to change their stance on this which they failed to take.”

The decision on stadium illumination follows an announcement from UEFA on Sunday that Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer would not face action over a rainbow armband he wore during the games against France and Portugal.

Neuer wore the armband to show his support for the LGBTQI+ community during Pride Month, prompting UEFA to investigate whether it could be viewed as a political statement.

But UEFA concluded there was no case to answer, given the 35-year-old was “promoting a good cause”.

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Wednesday's key events


SKATEBOARDING
· Team GB starlet Sky Brown - aged just 13 - takes part in the women's park event and has a realistic chance of picking up a medal too. Bombette Martin is Britain's other representative, while hosts Japan are among the favourites for gold (1am)

HOCKEY
· Great Britain's women have more history in their sights heading into their semi-final against Netherlands - the team they beat in the 2016 gold medal match (2.30am)

ATHLETICS
· The men's 400m hurdles final on Tuesday will go down as one of the greatest Olympic races of all time, and the women will attempt to emulate that, with new world record holder Sydney McLaughlin of USA and Netherlands' Femke Bol the favourites for gold (3.30am)
· Nick Miller is Britain's representative in the men's hammer throw final (12.15pm)
· The men's 800m final could be a wide-open affair (1.05pm)
· A thrilling men's 200m final is in store as the likes of Andre de Grasse, Noah Lyles and 17-year-old sensation Erriyon Knighton bid to succeed Usain Bolt as Olympic champion (1.55pm)

SAILING
· After a medal-laden day on the water on Tuesday, Great Britain will be looking for more success, starting with Luke Patience and Chris Grube in the men's 470-class medal race (6.33am)
· Team GB also have medal hopes in the women's event, with defending champion Hannah Mills looking to retain her crown alongside new teammate Eilidh McIntyre (7.33am)

BOXING
· Already guaranteed at least a bronze, Great Britain's Frazer Clarke faces Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalolov in the men's super heavyweight with a place in the gold medal bout up for grabs (7.03am)
· Ben Whittaker is also guaranteed a medal, but will look to ensure that is either gold or silver as he takes on Cuba's Arlen Lopez in the light heavyweight final (7.35am)

CYCLING
· World records have been tumbling in the velodrome, and another could go in the men's team pursuit final as Italy - new world record holders themselves - face Denmark (10.06am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Three Brits have made into into the final of the men's jumping individual final, including fastest qualifier Ben Maher, who will bid to inherit compatriot Nick Skelton's Olympic crown (11am)

> Today's schedule in full
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