Before Germany’s final group game VS Hungary, UEFA ensured that Bayern Munich’s Stadium would not be lit up in rainbow colours as a decision to block the planned LGBTQ+ rainbow stadium protest, which was intended to show support for the LGBTQ+ community in Hungary.
In a great showing of solidarity towards the LGBTQ+ community – who have traditionally been marginalised, in the footballing world as well as in wider society, many football stadiums in Germany decided to illuminate their structures in the recognisable rainbow colours, a stunning example of which is the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany – Home of Hertha Berlin.
Photo: Bleacher Report Football (@BRFootball, Twitter)
UEFA decided that the rainbow lights at the Allianz Arena, the home of Bayern Munich, would “Contravene its rules about political and religious neutrality, so the protest at the stadium couldn’t go ahead.” (The Guardian, 2021) This is because the protest was planned as a sign of disagreement with “A new law in Hungary banning school materials deemed to “promote” homosexuality and gender change.” (Yahoo News, 2021)
Seeing as they could not light up the Allianz Arena, it was great to see that the Mayor of Munich instead decided to light up a wind turbine, clearly visible by anyone around the stadium with the rainbow colours. This is a great sign that the footballing world is moving towards far greater inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community, which can only be a good thing for humanity.
It was not only the stadiums, but many landmarks all over Germany continued to follow suit, including the Dortmunder U in Dortmund, and the New Town Hall in Munich draped rainbow flags at the front of the building.
Movements like this are so great to see. Part of football being the beautiful game is that it is for everyone, and statements such as this are a reminder that football has such a platform for change, that it should be used more often.
The LGBTQ+ Community is one which is growing in representation in the footballing world, with more and more organisations, protests, and movements popping up in this space. One such movement is Stonewall FC, who you may have seen alongside FC Not Alone in the VERSUS series ‘Team Talks’ on your TV screens before certain Euro 2020 fixtures. In the interview, Jay Catalano and Betty Mayeya highlighted the key motivation for movements such as these, which is that “Having real conversations is how we make football safer. No one wants to be othered or treated differently. We just want to be treated the same.”
This is an initiative that everyone can come together and support, for equality in the footballing world, whether that be in terms of race, gender or sexuality, there is work to be done. Each small step, such as the rainbow stadiums in Germany, is a step towards a better, more inclusive game of football, which is for all to enjoy.