UEFA is investigating after two fans at the Olympic Stadium in Baku reportedly had an LGBTQ rainbow flag confiscated as Denmark beat the Czech Republic 2-1 in the Euro 2020 quarter-finals on Saturday.
The incident continues a running theme in the international tournament.
A row was initially triggered by Munich City Council being denied permission to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors, in protest against a law passed in Hungary on the spread of information on homosexuality to minors.
That was followed by similar tales of Netherlands fans having their rainbow flags taken off them as they tried to gain access to the Puskas Arena in Budapest, and a fan zone in the Hungarian capital, before their country was defeated by the Czechs last weekend – which UEFA was forced to deny.
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On Friday, official Euro 2020 sponsor Volkswagen alleged that UEFA stopped it from submitting rainbow-themed advertising in Russia for yesterday’s quarterfinal clash between Spain and Switzerland, as well this afternoon’s meeting between the Danes and Czechs.
UEFA later stressed that it “requires its sponsors to ensure that their artwork is compliant with local legislation.”
During the latter match itself in Baku on Saturday, photos spread across social media of security appearing to confiscate a rainbow flag that was being held up at the Olympic Stadium, and once again the tournament organizer was pushed into making a statement.
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“UEFA never instructed stewards in Baku – or in any other stadium – to confiscate rainbow flags,” it began.
“We are currently investigating what happened and we will of course contact the UEFA delegate, UEFA Security officer and local authorities to clear this up.
“The rainbow flag is a symbol that embodies UEFA core values, promoting everything that we believe in — a more just and egalitarian society, tolerant of everyone and UEFA has ensured that the flag was returned to the supporter.”
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To the Evening Standard in the UK, though, UEFA added more context by saying that: “The initial information we received was that the supporter in question appeared heavily intoxicated and that some local supporters turned aggressive towards him.
“The local stewards intervened and allowed the supporter to remain, despite his state.”
While in , a 2017 report from Human Rights Watch claimed LGBTQ citizens have been arrested and on the receiving end of police violence and torture.