Euro 2020: When is a symbol not political?

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

The furore over lighting the Munich Stadium, on 23 June 2021, for the Hungary/Germany match in the rainbow colours of the LGBTQ movement has gone beyond football and sparked widespread controversy, including claims by the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, that it was an attack on freedom of expression.

The request by the Mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, to do this during Pride Month was turned down by UEFA, the Governing Body of European Football, on the ground that it was a political act.

The Mayor had stated this was in opposition to the draft Law in Hungary against promoting homosexuality to the under eighteens in educational materials. UEFA, under its Statutes, is a non-political and non-religious organisation.

The Mayor had claimed that the refusal was political, but UEFA rejected this claim, stating:

“…. the request itself was political, linked to the Hungarian football team’s presence in the stadium….”

However, UEFA changed its Twitter icon to the pride colours stating that:

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

This, at first sight, may appear to be a volte-face by UEFA.

However, the author of this Post takes a different point of view.

In all these cases, the issue should always be seen, as UEFA has insisted, in its context and not taken out of context, otherwise the meaning is distorted.

So, let us now get on with the football and leave politics out of sport!

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘’