(CNN)European football governing body UEFA has found itself on the defensive over diversity ahead of the Euro 2020 match between Germany and Hungary on Wednesday.
It started with a proposal by the Munich city council to illuminate the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors for the game — a response to an anti-LGBTQ law passed by the Hungarian parliament last week.
UEFA declined the request, citing its “political context.” But opposition to that decision has continued to grow over the past 24 hours.
“It’s true, the football pitch is not about politics. It’s about people, about fairness, about tolerance,” German foreign minister Heiko Maas tweeted on Wednesday.
“That’s why UEFA is sending the wrong signal. But fortunately you can still show your colors today — in the stadium and outside #loveislove.”
Around 20,000 rainbow-colored flags will be distributed at the Allianz Arena ahead of the game, while there have also been calls on social media for spectators to dress in rainbow-colored clothes.
Across Germany, football clubs have also said they will illuminate their home grounds in rainbow colors during the game. The outside of Munich’s city hall, meanwhile, has been decorated in rainbow flags.
On Twitter, France forward Antoine Griezmann posted a photo of the Allianz Arena with its rainbow lights on, and German businesses — such as BMW, Siemens and Sparkasse — have changed their logos to rainbow colors.
The rainbow flag has become a universal symbol of hope for LGBTQ people around the world and is commonly adopted by members of the football community and beyond as a show of solidarity.
The response to the decision not to light up the Allianz Arena in rainbow colors prompted UEFA to defend its position, while also incorporating rainbow colors into its social media logos.
“Some people have interpreted UEFA’s decision to turn down the city of Munich’s request to illuminate the Munich stadium in rainbow colors for a Euro 2020 match as ‘political,'” UEFA said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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.
“For UEFA, the rainbow is not a political symbol, but a sign of our firm commitment to a more diverse and inclusive society. #Equalgame #Euro2020.”
As for Hungary, its Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that “German politicians” should accept the decision not to illuminate the stadium.
“It is not the state’s job to decide whether to paint the stadium in Munich, or any other stadium, in rainbow colors,” he told German news agency DPA.
Orban added: “While homosexual people were persecuted in Hungary under the communist leadership, today the state does not only guarantee their freedoms but also actively protects their rights.”
The new legislation in Hungary, which was passed last week, bans the dissemination of content in schools deemed to promote homosexuality and gender change. It has been widely criticized by human rights groups and opposition parties.