A Danish supporter has spoken about the moment he had a rainbow flag confiscated before the Euro 2020 quarter-final against the Czech Republic at the Olympic Stadium in Baku.
Denmark won the game 2-1 and will now take on England at Wembley for a place in the final but for Kristoffer Føns the incident left a sour taste on an otherwise enjoyable evening.
“An official guard came up to be and pulled the flag out of my hands,” he told Danish public broadcaster DR. He had been watching from home earlier in the tournament and seen the news that the Allianz Arena in Munich could not be lit up in rainbow colours for the visit of Hungary in the group stage.
Uefa said in a statement on that occasion that it had no choice than to reject the action on the grounds that it “contravened its regulations as a political and neutral organisation”. It said due to the “political context” of the application, “a message aiming at a decision taken by the Hungarian national parliament”, Uefa had to decline the request.
Føns added: “I thought before going to Baku that we are going to a place where human rights are not really a thing. I have been very sceptical about the fact that the World Cup is being held in Qatar so I thought that I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t do anything.”
The organisation Danske Fodboldfans (Danish Football fans) tweeted later that the flag had been returned to its owner but that the matter had not been closed. They added that they would continue to speak to the Danish Football Association and Fans Europe to get to the bottom of how this happened.
Uefa said in a statement to AFP: “We are looking into what happened [in Baku] and will of course contact Uefa’s delegate at the game, Uefa’s head of security at the game and the local authorities to find out what happened.”
The Danish minister for equality, Peter Hummelgaard, said he was appalled by the flag being removed. “We must not lose this fight for equality because this is about some basic human rights,” he said. “We have to be strong in the middle of this fight to have the right to love whoever you want to. And the right to live as you want and be who you are.
“There are some countries, organisations and people are who actively fighting these rights with everything they can. The fight is not easy to win because there are strong forces against it, but that does not make the struggle any less important.”
The incident happened two days after one of the main sponsors of the tournament, Volkswagen, said they had been told not to display advertising banners in the rainbow colours in Baku and St Petersburg for Euro 2020 matches. “Due to Uefa’s concerns about the legal framework for venues in Russia and Azerbaijan, the association informed us it wouldn’t be possible to use rainbow-coloured advertising on billboards in Saint Petersburg and Baku,” the German car manufacturer wrote in a statement.