UEFA has found itself in another controversy after a rainbow flag was confiscated during the recent match at Baku Olympic Stadium.
According to a report from The Athletic, photos emerged of stadium staffers taking a Pride flag from a group of fans during the Denmark and Czech Republic Euro 2020 quarter-final.
Shortly after the photos surfaced, the organisation released a statement in addressing the incident.
“UEFA never instructed stewards in Baku – or in any other stadium – to confiscate rainbow flags,” UEFA told The Athletic.
“We are currently investigating what happened and we will of course contact the UEFA delegate, UEFA Security 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.”
Even though Azerbaijan – where the Baku Olympic Stadium resides – has decriminalised homosexuality, the local LGBTQ+ community is still subjected to police brutality and harassment.
This recent UEFA incident comes two days after they banned Volkswagen from showcasing Pride adverts in Azerbaijan and Russia.
On Friday (2 July), UEFA told the car manufacturing company that concerns about the “legal framework” around LGBTQ+ support in Russia and Azerbaijan prompted the decision.
“Volkswagen took a clear stand for diversity with the colouring of the advertising banners in the round of 16 games throughout Europe,” a spokesperson said.
“To continue to openly and consistently demonstrate this open-minded outlook when it comes to respect and equal rights, the plan was for our rainbow banners to be displayed again in the upcoming quarter-final games in St Petersburg, Munich, Baku and Rome.
“Due to concerns of UEFA with regard to the legal framework at the venues in Russia and Azerbaijan, the association informed us that it was not possible to use rainbow-coloured banners on the advertising boards in St. Petersburg and Baku.”
The spokesperson then ended their statement saying that the Pride adverts will still be shown during the semi-finals in Munich and Rome.