Germany star Goretzka says it would have been ‘absurd’ for UEFA to punish Manuel Neuer after rainbow armband row
Neuer and the German Football Association (DFB) drew the wrath of UEFA executives after the Bayern Munich goalkeeper wore the armband as a gesture of solidarity to the LGBT community during 'Pride Month', also prompting backlash from some figures in far-right political parties in the country.
UEFA rules decree that captain's armbands must be uniform and contain no political symbolism whatsoever, with European Football's administrative body adjudging the rainbow armband to be in violation of guidelines.
Neuer wore the offending armband in Germany's first two Euro 2020 fixtures, as well as during a pre-tournament friendly with Latvia, with the DFB later being notified that UEFA had launched an investigation into the matter which could have led to both Neuer and the DFB being hit with substantial fines.
However, UEFA backtracked late on Sunday and announced in a note to the DFB that the investigation had been closed and that they has assessed Neuer's wearing of the armband as being "a symbol for diversity and a good cause".
DFA spokesperson Jens Grittner revealed after UEFA stood down from their disciplinary proceedings that Neuer would have continued to wear the rainbow armband regardless of any financial penalties which may have been levied against him.
"Manuel Neuer has been wearing the rainbow armband since a friendly against Latvia on 7 June as a sign and clear commitment of the whole team for diversity, openness, tolerance and against hate and exclusion. The message is: we are colourful," Grittner added.
UEFA have today shared with the DFB that they have stopped the review of the rainbow captain's armband worn by @Manuel_Neuer.In a letter, the armband has been assessed as a team symbol for diversity and thus for a 'good cause.' #EURO2020#GERpic.twitter.com/HFiAAQ6F5D— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 20, 2021
With the matter now resolved ahead of Germany's Wednesday clash with Hungary, Bayern's Goretzka says that calmer heads have prevailed.
"There are rules and guidelines at UEFA and the DFB," Goretzka said at a press conference on Monday. "Sport should not be exploited – that is important and right.
"However, it would have been absurd if we had to apologize for it [the armband], as it is clear what that stands for."
Former Germany international Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out as gay in 2014 and is currently the sporting director for Bundesliga side VfB Stuttgart, slammed UEFA's initial investigation, tweeting (via translation): "Come on, UEFA and EURO 2020 – you can not be serious?"Also on rt.com UEFA ‘ends investigation into rainbow armband worn by Germany captain Neuer’ amid backlash from LGBT campaigners