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Euro 2020 sponsor Volkswagen says it was told by UEFA it was not possible to use rainbow-coloured banners on advertising boards at the quarter-finals in Baku and St Petersburg.
The car manufacturer, which became a sponsor of UEFA national team competitions in 2018, says the governing body had “concerns with regard to the legal framework at the venues in Russia and Azerbaijan”.
Volkswagen said: “We regret this development.”
The news follows the decision by UEFA to reject a request from the mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter, to illuminate the city’s stadium in rainbow colours for Germany’s match against Hungary.
UEFA said the request was political, and made in response to legislation in Hungary banning the display and promotion of homosexuality to under-18s.
Reiter described that decision as “shameful”.
UEFA said: “Some people have interpreted UEFA’s decision to turn down the city of Munich’s request to illuminate the Munich stadium in rainbow colours for a Euro 2020 match as ‘political’.
“On the contrary, the request itself was political, linked to the Hungarian football team’s presence in the stadium for this evening’s match with Germany.”
Volkswagen said the rainbow boards would be used “as a colourful statement of diversity and respect” at the other quarter-finals in Munich and Rome, and hoped to also use them at the remaining games at Wembley.
The boards were used throughout the matches in the last 16.
UEFA said in a statement: “UEFA fully supports the display of such messages of tolerance and respect for diversity, which were already displayed in all stadiums at all round of 16 matches and will be displayed by UEFA’s partner Volkswagen at the quarter-final matches in Munich and Rome.
“UEFA requires its sponsors to ensure that their artwork is compliant with local legislation and we understand that this is not the case in Baku and St Petersburg.
“UEFA will however continue to highlight its fight against all types of discrimination through its Equal Game campaign across all stadiums in all remaining matches.
“All other sponsors decided not to use rainbow artwork any longer in the tournament, with pride month having come to an end.”