By Andrew Warshaw
June 21 – Budapest may have arguably the best Euro 2020 atmosphere as the only stadium full to capacity but the choice of the city as one of the hosts has been blighted by a UEFA investigation into “potential discriminatory incidents” that are understood to refer to racist chanting and homophobic propaganda.
UEFA says an “ethics and disciplinary inspector has been appointed” to conduct the probe without providing any details on the incidents.
The anti-discrimination group Fare, which monitors matches for incidents of racism and other forms of discrimination, sent a report to UEFA and discussed the matter with officials.
Right-wing and self-proclaimed Nazi groups are among Hungary’s most fervent supporters and on Saturday, during Hungary’s match against France which ended in a 1-1 draw, fans marched to the Puskas Arena displaying a banner calling on players to stop taking a knee to protest racism.
French players were then abused, with anumber of French media reports highlighting monkey chants directed at Paul Pogba, N’golo Kante and Kylian Mbappe.
During Hungary’s opening match against Portugal, images on social media showed banners with “Anti-LMBTQ” messages – the Hungarian abbreviation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ).
Hungary’s parliament, supported by hardline nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, recently passed legislation banning the promotion of homosexuality and gender change in schools.
Denmark’s women’s international Pernille Harder, one of six professional players helping to promote UEFA’s #EqualGame campaign as ambassadors, reacted angrily to the move by declaring: “Devastated to see that the Hungarian parliament passed new anti LGBT+ legislation, criminalising education and advertising of LGBT content to young people.
“We, the LGBT+ community, are people. We are human beings. We deserve the right to be treated like everyone else.”
For Hungary’s final group game against Germany on Wednesday in Munich, the city’s Mayor Dieter Reiter said Sunday he was going to write to UEFA to ask for permission for the Allianz Arena to be lit up with rainbow colours.
“This is an important sign of tolerance and equality,” Reiter told the DPA news agency.
The issue has not only drawn a dark cloud over the tournament but seems likely to deter UEFA from taking the semi-finals and final away from Wembley and moving them to Budapest as has been widely debated.
Currently under UK rules anyone entering the country from amber listed countries (which covers all the Euro 2020 participants) has to quarantine for 10 days.
UEFA, who are determined to ensure fans from countries in the final can attend, want sponsors, VIPs and media to avoid mandatory 10-day quarantine periods and are discussing a bubble for travelling fans that would seem them keep to designated bio-secure travel options and venues for a 24 hour period around the matches.
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