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RTÉ Sport. Damien Duff, Richie Sadlier and RTÉ's Peter Collins in studio last night.
# Powerful words
'Hollow, cowardly statements' - Damien Duff and Richie Sadlier slam Uefa for rainbow stance
The former footballers and pundits were speaking on RTÉ’s Euro 2020 coverage last night.

FORMER IRISH FOOTBALLERS Damien Duff and Richie Sadlier last night slammed Uefa for their stance on LGBTQ+ rights and the rainbow stadium situation.

European football’s governing body denied a request to illuminate Munich’s Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for last night’s Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary.

Uefa defended its decision, saying that the request from Munich mayor Dieter Reiter was rejected because it was political, and made in response to legislation in Hungary banning the display and promotion of homosexuality to under-18s.

It then released a statement yesterday noting: “For Uefa, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society”:

Heavy criticism followed, with Sadlier and Duff making their feelings known on Irish television as other shows of solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community during Pride took place in the city of Munich and around Europe.

“I think Uefa had a choice here,” Sadlier said on RTÉ. “They had the option to stand in solidarity with a community that has been routinely persecuted, marginalised, discriminated against, attacked in locations all over the world. The most recent attack is from the Hungarian parliament.

“They had the chance to do that and they didn’t, and they’ve tied themselves up in knots – the statement there saying on the one hand the rainbow flag is not political, but the request to use it in the stadium is?

“They claim to be about certain values, and there’s loads of statements – today’s one is the latest one – where they claim to be about equality, and respect, and inclusion, and openness for all.

You can’t credibly claim to be for those things if you run scared at the first opportunity of being up against someone who attacks those things, which is what they’ve done. I think they’ve blown it today, and whatever statements they put out now just read as hollow, cowardly statements.”

The pundit continued: “You’re either for the things that that rainbow flag symbolises, which Uefa, in that statement, said they clearly are.

“But now they’re saying, ‘We’ll only selectively express that we’re behind those values, or we’ll deny other people to wave the flag if certain people are in the stadium’ — people that have shown themselves to be openly attacking and hostile to this community that the rainbow flag is there to promote inclusion with.

“I don’t really know what Uefa do from here to recover the mess that they’ve got themselves in.”

Ex-Ireland international Duff echoed Sadlier’s sentiments, sticking the boot into Uefa and claiming that their stance is motivated by ‘money and power’.

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“To say it’s political is absolutely nonsense,” he added. “Like Richie says, echoing that, there was a chance to show support, their support for the LGBT community that’s a global community, that’s in Munich, that’s in Budapest where recently they played France and there were homophobic chants, homophobic banners in the stadium.

They talk about core values in their statement. Their core values – and not just because of today, because of even my experience with them – it’s just money and power. They’re the two that jump out to me. They make out that they’re about diversity and inclusion.

“They had a chance today to show that, absolutely not. The ‘Respect’ logo is absolutely everywhere but not many people respect them because of the way they do their work.

“They continually let themselves down. You can probably see, I’m just angry talking about them. They wind you up, they do. And like I said, respect, not many people respect them.”

During the Hungarian anthem last night, just minutes before kick-off at the Allianz Arena, a fan wearing a Germany shirt and waving a large rainbow flag invaded the pitch, running in front of the lined-up teams before being tackled by stewards and led away.

Germany’s goalscoring hero Leon Goretzka aimed a loveheart gesture towards the travelling supporters of Hungary as he knocked their side out of the Euros and rescued his team with a late equaliser in 2-2 draw.

Goretzka is an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. “Spread Love,” he wrote on Twitter afterwards alongside a Pride flag emoji.

Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer again wore a rainbow armband.


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