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Euro 2020: Manuel Neuer and DFB could face UEFA action over Pride armband

Sunday, 20 June 2021 (23:08 IST)
Manuel Neuer and the DFB may face punishment from UEFA after the Germany captain wore a rainbow armband in support of the LGBT+ community in Germany's first two games at the European Championship, as well as a warmup game against Latvia.

Considered a "political sign" by UEFA, Germany's governing body is likely to face a fine — despite homophobia being one of UEFA's key areas of campaigning and June being the designated "Pride Month".

"This is unacceptable," Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany (LSVD) federal board member Christian Rudolph told ntv.de.

"It is a fatal sign. We are currently in Pride Month and at the most important sporting event of the month the wearing of a rainbow captain's armband is to be prevented? UEFA must also think about who it represents. How should the athletes think about it now?

"We are striving for open football. And we also want to send a signal this month to all the athletes from the LGBTI community," Rudolph said. "It was important to us that Neuer can play the entire month with the rainbow captain's armband. These are now also the values that the DFB represents."

AfD's homophobic slur

The news that UEFA would be investigating followed a Twitter storm surrounding a state lawmaker from the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) after a homophobic slur and criticism of the national team's use of LGBT+ rainbow colors.

As Germany celebrated their 4-2 win against Portugal on Saturday evening, Uwe Junge — former leader of the AfD's Rhineland Palatinate parliamentary group — took to Twitter.

The former German army officer directed his ire at the rainbow armband worn by Neuer, describing it as a "f*****'s armband," before going on to complain that Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena would be lit up in the same colors.

"Now all that's missing is 'taking the knee,' and you're going to lose more and more fans. You must be able to afford it," he wrote, referring to the anti-racist kneeling protest adopted by some teams in the competition.

Several top AfD politicians, including a member of the Bundestag and Berlin AfD parliamentary group leader Georg Pazderski, had already expressed their disdain for Neuer's rainbow-colored captain's armband.

However, the wording used by Junge was judged to have marked a low point, according to the tabloid Bild. He later apologized for using the homophobic slur and said he had deleted the tweet.

Comments quickly criticized

The Social Democrat politician Karl Lauterbach said the tweet — which was deleted on Sunday morning — highlighted the intolerance of the AfD.

"Such comments show how terribly intolerant Germany would be governed if the AfD were ever in government," said Lauterbach.

Meanwhile, AfD co-leader Alice Weidel, herself a lesbian, also criticized the tweet as "not the AfD."

Weidel quipped that Junge, whose time as a state parliamentary leader ended several months ago, would soon find himself looking at the party from the outside.

Well-known party figure

Far from being an unknown in the party, Junge has appeared on national television debate shows and held several top posts in the party.

His tweet appeared to be sparked by news that the Allianz Arena would be lit in rainbow colors for Germany's match against Hungary on Wednesday as a show of solidarity for Hungary's LGBT+ community.

According to a new law passed by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, companies are no longer allowed to promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in advertising or to make them appear as normal.

The law also bans the teaching of LGBT+ content to minors.

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