UEFA sponsors such as Volkswagen have banned the use of rainbow-colored advertisements on billboards in St. Petersburg and Baku.
UEFA has asked its main sponsors, including the Volkswagen car, not to display advertising banners in the rainbow colors of the LGBTQ community in Baku and St. Petersburg for Euro 2020 matches, citing compliance with local laws.
“Due to UEFA’s concerns about the legal framework for venues in Russia and Azerbaijan, the association informed us that it would not be possible to use rainbow-colored advertising on billboards in St. Petersburg and Baku, ”wrote in a statement the German car giant Volkswagen.
When contacted by the AFP news agency, a spokesman said UEFA “fully supports” the messages of “tolerance and respect”, asking sponsors “to ensure that their design complies with local legislation.” and this was not the case in Baku and St. Petersburg. “
The German Gay and Lesbian Association (LSVD) has expressed fury over UEFA’s position.
“UEFA’s audacity and deception are limitless. With this action, he betrays not only lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals, trans and intersex people in Azerbaijan and Russia, but also throughout Europe, ”said spokesman Alfonso Pantisano.
“Once again, during this European Championship, it becomes clear that UEFA’s protests to defend a diverse, inclusive and non-discriminatory society are as useless as they are hypocritical.”
Prior to the tournament, during the group match in Germany against Hungary, the city of Monaco wanted to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors in support of the LGBTQ community.
But UEFA has refused permission from the local authorities.
Many Euro sponsors, including Volkswagen, have instead broadcast rainbow-colored announcements in the stadiums during the last 16 matches, although none of these games have been played in Russia or Azerbaijan.
Volkswagen said it had “regretted” UEFA’s latest refusal, adding that it wanted to “send a clear signal in favor of diversity”.
The company said it would be allowed to display rainbow-colored advertising in Rome and London during the rest of the European Championships.
Two Euro 2020 football matches in Hungary are being investigated from UEFA for “potential discriminatory incidents”.
During the opening of Hungary’s Euro 2020 match against Portugal in Budapest last month, images on social media show flags with “Anti-LMBTQ” on them – the Hungarian abbreviation for lesbian , gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ).
The Hungarian parliament passed legislation in June banning the dissemination of content in schools aimed at promoting homosexuality and gender change, amid strong criticism from human rights groups and opposition parties.
Tough nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who faces elections next year, has become increasingly conservative in terms of social policy, insulting immigrants and LGBTQ people during his self-imposed illiberal rule, which he greatly divided the Hungarians.