A Pride flag was confiscated from Danish fans by security agents at the Baku Olympic Stadium in Azerbaijan during the Euro 2020 quarter-final on Saturday (3 July).
Photographs emerged while the match aired that appeared to show a group of fans holding a rainbow flag before two stadium staffers take it away.
It comes after UEFA, the sport’s top governing body, was rocked by yet another scandal after it appeared to ban rainbow-themed advertisements at the matches in Azerbaijan and Russia.
In a statement to The Athletic, UEFA representatives stressed that the body did not order the removal of the flag and that an investigation has been launched into the incident.
“UEFA never instructed stewards in Baku — or in any other stadium — to confiscate rainbow flags,” the spokesperson said.
“We are currently investigating what happened and we will of course contact the UEFA delegate, UEFA Security officer 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,” the statement ended, once against never mentioning the word “LGBT+”.
Indeed, this season of the month-long tournament has been rocked by backlash against UEFA after it refused to light up a Munich, Germany stadium in the colours of the rainbow.
City officials had hoped the statement would send a defiant message to Hungary, whose team were set to play there at the time, after the country’s lawmakers passed a reviled law that bans the “promotion” of LGBT+ people to minors.
UEFA later approved rainbow-themed pitch-side advertising boards at the European Championship just days later, only to prevent Volkswagen from displaying its rainbow LED boards in Azerbaijan and Russia.
The administrative body denied it had banned the automaker from displaying the ads, instead claiming it was simply complying with “local legislation”.