Budapest, Hungary – UEFA has launched an investigation into “potential discriminatory incidents” during Hungary’s opening two games at Euro 2020 against Portugal and France, which each took place at Budapest’s Puskas Arena.
During the game against Portugal, images of an anti-LGBT banner among the home supporters in the stands circulated on social media and was reported to UEFA by anti-discrimination group Fare.
“Potential discriminatory incidents”
Furthermore, a statement issued by European football’s governing body said it was investigating possible acts of discrimination inside the Puskas Arena from both matches, notably racist chants directed at France’s N’Golo Kanté, Paul Pogba et Kylian Mbappé.
Before Saturday’s game against France, some Hungarian fans took part in a pre-match march in Budapest and unveiled a banner opposing the act of kneeling before matches, an incident which won’t be investigated by UEFA.
The statement read: “In accordance with article 31(4) of the UEFA disciplinary regulations, a UEFA ethics and disciplinary inspector has been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding potential discriminatory incidents which occurred in the Puskas Arena, Budapest, during the 2020 European Championship group stage matches between the national teams of Hungary and Portugal on 15 June 2021 and between the national teams of Hungary and France played on 19 June 2021.
“Information on this matter will be made available in due course.”
These incidents come as Viktor Orban’s right-wing government last week passed a controversial legislation banning schools from activities deemed to promote homosexuality or gender reassignment.
Relocating the final to Budapest?
This also comes as UEFA is reportedly considering relocating the semi-finals and final of the tournament from Wembley to Budapest, should the British government not lift the health restrictions linked to Covid-19, in order to maximize the number of fans in the stands.
Budapest’s Puskas Arena is indeed the only Euro 2021 venue without capacity restrictions due to Covid-19.
UEFA said it was “confident” the semi-finals and final would still take place at England’s national stadium as it continued to discuss with the UK government “a strict testing and bubble concept that would mean [fans’] stay in the UK would be less than 24 hours and their movements would be restricted to approved transport and venues only”.
UEFA added that a “contingency plan” was in place if an agreement cannot be reached, although it did not specify Budapest or any other alternative venue.
Coincidentally, UEFA had also launched an investigation into Manuel Neuer’s rainbow captain armband worn during Germany’s first two games, considering it to be a political sign during a game, which is prohibited according to their rules.
The investigation concluded that the armband is, in fact, a “symbol of diversity and thus a good cause” and therefore does not fall foul of UEFA’s rules around “political symbols” which are forbidden and usually results in a fine for the national association.
Photo credit: Laszlo