This Saturday, Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer will walk onto the pitch wearing a captain’s armband that is slightly different than usual. Instead of the standard white armband with a logo, Neuer will wear one with rainbow colors, representing the LGBT pride flag. This is part of a campaign by the club to promote tolerance and diversity. The Allianz Arena will also be lit up in rainbow colors, and the interior decor will also be changed accordingly.
The club’s official press release had this to say:
For the home game against Hoffenheim on Saturday, the Allianz Arena will shine in rainbow colours, the interior of the stadium will be designed accordingly and Manuel Neuer will wear a captain’s armband in the colours that represent diversity. The captains of the women’s team and the reserves will also wear this symbol of tolerance, and the FC Bayern basketball players will likewise take part in the campaign. Once again, the German record champions make it clear: ‘Mia san bunt’! (‘we are diverse’)
Club President Herbert Hainer explained the decision by the record champions, saying the following: “FC Bayern looks back not just at a long, successful sporting tradition — the club has also been known for a tolerant and liberal world view since its foundation a good 121 years ago. On the occasion of this year’s Remembrance Day, we would particularly like to commemorate our former President Angelo Knorr, who was arrested for his homosexuality.”
Did you know about Angelo Knorr? I certainly didn’t. Not until I read that press release, anyway. That’s why these campaigns are important — to remind us of the tragedies of the past, so we can build a better and more inclusive future for everyone.
Hainer continued, saying: “As the predecessor of Kurt Landauer, he [Knorr] played a key role in the development of our club. We are grateful to him to this day. It is one of the irrevocable human rights to be able to live freely. We stand up for the liberal values of our society. It is important to us to create awareness and to help break down prejudices. That is why FC Bayern says very clearly: Mia san bunt!”
Club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge was very clear on the messaging, saying, “As a cosmopolitan club, FC Bayern stands for tolerance and diversity. Homophobia, hatred and exclusion of any kind should not play a role in this world.”
As a fan, it’s honestly great to see Bayern take its social responsibility seriously and try to do its part for a more inclusive society. It can’t have been a trivial decision — such a thing will surely alienate some portion of the club’s fanbase. But it’s necessary.
When a huge club like Bayern openly embraces a symbol like the rainbow flag, it helps the people that symbol represents feel included and accepted in society. While it’s really not much more than a gesture, and won’t bring paradigm change on its own — small gestures of acceptance go a long way to furthering a larger cause.
As fans of Bayern, we who keep the values of Mia San Mia near our hearts, we should naturally follow the club’s lead on this. These ARE our values, and they’re not up for debate. It’s not transfer policy or tactics — you can’t argue about values.
Bayern Munich as an institution has felt the sting of persecution in its time, and barely managed to survive when it happened. Now, the club’s message is clear — such a thing should never happen again. If you’re a fan, how can you disagree with that?