Something amazing happened in Germany last night. Postponed from taking place last year, Euro 2020, one of the world’s biggest soccer tournaments, is currently taking place across stadiums on the continent. Like the Olympics, the organizers are keen to push the event as a non-political, neutral celebration of sport.
However, a row this week over rainbows and LGBTQ rights culminated in a particularly tense match last night between the national teams for Germany and Hungary. Here’s a simple breakdown of what went on.
1. Hungary passed an anti-gay propaganda law last week, which has been slammed by other European countries for being homophobic and transphobic.
2. In the wake of the law being passed, the Mayor of Munich suggested the city’s Allianz Arena be lit in rainbow colors last night. The stadium was hosting a crucial Euro 2020 clash between Germany and Hungary.
3. UEFA, the sporting body in charge of European football, said no to the suggestion, pointing to the “political context” of the request.
4. Instead, as controversy grew over UEFA’s decision, other stadiums in Germany (not hosting Euro matches) said they would instead light themselves in rainbow colors. This included the Olympic Stadium in Berlin. The gesture extended beyond Germany. The Ghelamco Arena in Ghent, Belgium, also turned rainbow.
UEFA prohibited Munich from lighting up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors for Germany’s match vs. Hungary today.
So stadiums across Germany lit up 🌈 pic.twitter.com/n4ULhgVqkr
— B/R Football (@brfootball) June 23, 2021
5. Hungary’s ultra-conservative Prime Minister, Victor Orbán, was due to attend last night’s game in person. As the row escalated, Orbán canceled his trip. Although there was no official comment from the Hungarian soccer team, goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi spoke out recently in support of tolerance for “rainbow families.”
6. Yesterday, hours before the match, UEFA, in an effort not to be seen as the bad guy, changed its logo on social media to rainbow colors, saying it respected the rainbow and did not see the rainbow itself as political, but that the request to light the stadium for the match against Hungary as political. This tone-deaf defense prompted eye-rolls across social media.
— UEFA (@UEFA) June 23, 2021
“It is our core value” [one paragraph later] “we abandoned it upon polite request from homophobes”
— James Felton (@JimMFelton) June 23, 2021
7. As fans turned up at the stadium in Munich, many waved rainbow flags, in defiance of the stadium not being lit in rainbow colors.
No rainbow lights? No problem!
Local LGBT rights activists are equipping matchgoers with 11,000 rainbow flags outside Munich’s Allianz Arena in response to UEFA’s refusal to illuminate the stadium in LGBT flag colors for Germany’s game against Hungary.
#GERHUN #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/O0beyPwwRq
— DW Sports (@dw_sports) June 23, 2021
8. Ahead of kick-off, as the teams lined up to listen to their national anthems, a protestor stormed the pitch waving a rainbow flag. They were wrestled down and then led away by security.
Oh wow! One spectator just ran on with a rainbow flag during the Hungarian national anthem. Loud cheers from the Germany block pic.twitter.com/EDJzdV0tbx
— Archie Rhind-Tutt (@archiert1) June 23, 2021
Tonight’s pic : A protestor holding a Rainbow Flag runs onto the pitch in front of the Hungarian team before its Euro 2020 group F match with Germany in Munich, Germany, June 23, 2021. #UefaEuro2021 #uefarainbow pic.twitter.com/bAHRWyWOgE
— Damien Lorenzi ☀️🚴♂️ (@JUSTBYLORENZI) June 23, 2021
9. Hungary took the lead in the match and appeared likely to advance the next round of the tournament. However, in the final minutes, Germany equalized. The end result was a 2-2 draw. Due to points difference from earlier matches in the tournament, this meant a heartbroken Hungarian team crashed out of the championship and are now heading home.
Of course, although that’s the end of Hungary’s Euro 2020 run, it’s not the end for its controversial new legislation.
The new law prohibits any “promotion” of same-sex relationships or gender reassignment to those under 18. Hungary’s teachers and TV channels are trying to work out how this draconian legislation might impact them. Broadcasters have already warned they may not be able to air shows like Modern Family, certain episodes of Friends or some of the Harry Potter movies.
Seventeen other European countries have denounced the law, writing a joint statement on Tuesday saying, “The new Hungarian legislation undermines the fundamental values of the Europe we stand for.”