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UEFA action over Neuer’s rainbow armband would have been ‘absurd’ – Goretzka

Berlin (AFP) – Germany midfielder Leon Goretzka insisted Monday it would have been “absurd” if UEFA had sanctioned the German FA for the rainbow-coloured captain’s armband Germany skipper Manuel Neuer has worn during Euro 2020 in solidarity with gay pride this month.

On Sunday, the German Football Association (DFB) said it had received a letter from European football’s governing body saying a review of the matter has been stopped.

“The armband has been assessed as a team symbol for diversity and thus for a ‘good cause’,” the DFB said on Twitter.

A UEFA spokesperson confirmed to AFP that the Germans “will not face disciplinary proceedings”. 

Normally, the captains of each team at the European Championship are obliged to wear a standard armband issued by UEFA.

Neuer will wear the rainbow armband for Wednesday’s crunch home game against Hungary, which the Germans must win to be sure of reaching the last 16.

However, Goretzka said the rainbow armband should have never have been an issue.

“There are rules and guidelines at UEFA and the DFB, sport should not be exploited, that is important and right,” said Goretzka at the German camp in Bavaria.

“However, it would have been absurd if we had to apologise for it (the armband), as it is clear what that stands for.”

Former Germany midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who came out as gay after retiring in 2013 and is now head of sport at VfB Stuttgart, was unimpressed that UEFA had even looking into the armband matter.

“Come on, @UEFA @EURO2020 – you can not be serious?!” Hitzlsperger tweeted on Sunday.

On Sunday, Grittner said that Neuer would not have stopped wearing the rainbow armband even if UEFA opted to punish the Germans.

“June is also the month of ‘Pride’ in sport to promote more diversity. This year, the DFB is also participating with various campaigns,” said German FA spokesman Jens Grittner.

“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!”

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