Euro 2020: UEFA and Neuer's rainbow armband
Manuel Neuer has played Germany’s Euro 2020 games wearing a rainbow-coloured captain’s armband. UEFA rules state that team skippers must wear a yellow, clearly-identifiable armband bearing a ‘C’ for captain and the word “respect”, as well as the tournament logo. Germany didn’t tell UEFA Neuer would be sporting a rainbow armband and on Sunday were surprised to learn that the body was opening an investigation into the matter. As was to be expected, there was such a backlash against the probe that in a matter of hours it had been shelved, UEFA acknowledging as it rectified its error that the armband is a positive, pro-diversity symbol.
The investigation initially arose out of regulations that crack down on anything UEFA suspects is a political statement. All kit must be green-lit before the Euros. This year, we’ve had two tricky cases: the Ukraine shirt has a map that includes the Crimea, while North Macedonia’s jersey features the letters "FFM" - Football Federation of Macedonia. The initials drew complaints from Greece, which has a region called Macedonia. Ukraine and North Macedonia’s shirts were both accepted when they showed them to UEFA before Euro 2020. Germany had not sought approval for Neuer’s armband, leading to the swiftly-abandoned investigation.
UEFA, FIFA must do more to support sexual diversity
Though the inquiry was dropped, the episode leaves us with food for thought. UEFA and FIFA, who are both highly active in opposing racism and promoting the women’s game, seem less committed to the cause of sexual diversity, still a taboo subject in football. The fight Neuer seeks to back is still far from football’s top administrative offices. Partly because of the macho culture the game has long been bound up in, and partly because many parts of the globe (and not just the Arab world; look at Russia and Hungary in Europe) still take the same view of the issue - or far worse - as we in Spain did until recently. It’s time UEFA and FIFA raised that flag too.