Mats Hummels criticises UEFA over controversial rainbow stadium decision

Germany defender Mats Hummels has criticised UEFA’s decision not to illuminate the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours for Wednesday’s game against Hungary.

UEFA refused to allow the Munich stadium to be lit up in protest at a new law in Hungary that bans the sharing of any content seen as promoting homosexuality and gender change to under-18s.

According to UEFA, they denied the request because of the “political context” involved, a decision which has drawn widespread criticism for its failure to tackle homophobia.

“I heard about it and think there are of course reasons from UEFA’s side why they stopped it,” said Hummels, wearing a T-shirt with the message ‘Love Unites’.

“For me personally, I would have enjoyed it [the stadium being lit up]. I am a supporter of messages like this to the world, full stop.

“Footballers and other sporting personalities can have a positive impact and send the right signs.

“I think we can be happy how many of the lads, especially in our national team, are aware of their responsibilities.

“It’s good to have it as a discussion, we need to talk about it in public and when we arrived I had a similar shirt with the same message.

“There was a player in the NFL who came out yesterday and it’s not necessary – it should be accepted and normal in sport.

“It shouldn’t be a big thing any more. Small gestures, small signals are a step into the right direction, it’s about time it happened.”

Mats Hummels takes part in Germany training

Germany coach Joachim Low said: “I would have been happy if the stadium had been illuminated in the rainbow colours.

“They should be shown, these values. We have sent these signals in the past and we will in the future. The important thing is to live these values.”

Meanwhile, Hungary coach Marco Rossi says his side are up against a German “tank” as they try to knock Joachim Low’s men out of the competition

Unfancied Hungary, who held World Cup winners France 1-1 in their last game, can progress to the last 16 and knock Germany out with victory in Munich.

But to do so, Rossi said his players must overcome one of European football’s superpowers, one he compared to a tank in terms of their power and status.

“We are up against a tank,” said Rossi. “In Italy, we call the Germans ‘panzers’, because we know how powerful they are.

“But they are not only powerful, they have a lot of skill, they are technically gifted and one of the best teams in the world.

“But from a fitness level we have matched, if not superseded, our opponents.

“Before I came into the job, the greatest concern for the Hungarian national team was fitness levels, the fact we couldn’t battle and scrap.

“But we can go into the 50-50 challenges and certainly match them. I don’t rule out the fact that we might lose some of them, but we certainly have the desire to go into the battle.”

Manuel Neuer of Germany with his teammate Mats Hummels
Manuel Neuer of Germany with his teammate Mats Hummels

Asked if his side can pull off the upset of the tournament by knocking Germany out, Rossi said: “We believe – and we are right to believe – we can do it.

“But we are right to believe because of the effort and hard work we have put in this far. My players deserve a lot of credit for keeping it alive to matchday three.

“It will come down to key incidents and whether we have any luck. We need to be fortunate to come away with maximum points.

“We need a perfect performance and hope Germany have a bad day.”

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