Just before France and Germany kicked off their electrifying Euro 2020 group stage match, the spectators at Allianz Arena in Munich were greeted with a strange sight. A Greenpeace protester used a powered paraglider with a motor attached to the back and tried to land on the pitch before kickoff.
However, the parachutist ended up hitting the overhead camera wire attached to the stadium roof and debris fell over spectators’ heads, narrowly missing France coach Didier Deschamps. Deschamps was shown ducking into his dugout in order to avoid the falling debris.
UEFA called it a “reckless and dangerous” act and said “law authorities will take the necessary action.”
“This inconsiderate act … caused injuries to several people attending the game who are now in hospital,” UEFA said.
German team spokesman Jens Grittner was highly critical of the incident and mentioned that the parachutist endangered the lives and safety of several people with his stunt.
“We as the German football federation condemn it of course, because it wasn’t just him, but others that he endangered and injured. It’s unacceptable from our point of view,” German team spokesman Jens Grittner said. “And the incident is being checked by the police, the authorities here in Munich and at UEFA. But of course, we also condemn what happened there. It could probably have turned out much worse.”
The Greenpeace member’s parachute carried the slogan “KICK OUT OIL!” and had the organisation’s name “Greenpeace” written on it. After gliding into the stadium, he appeared to have lost control after striking the wires. He narrowly missed several spectators seated in the main grandstand and managed to land on the pitch. German players Antonio Rudiger and Robin Gosens approached him and he was led away by security guards away from the field and given medical attention.
German chancellor Angela Merkel slammed the Greenpeace stunt and even asked for reflection from the members.
Meanwhile, Greenpeace spokesperson Benjamin Stephan apologized on behalf of the organization and mentioned that he had to glide into the stadium because of a technical problem during the flight which was originally supposed to have the necessary distance from the stadium.
“The paraglider didn’t want to go into the stadium yesterday. The pilot wanted to fly over the stadium while maintaining the necessary safety distance and only let a balloon float into the stadium with a message to Volkswagen, a main sponsor, with the demand that they get out of the production of climate-damaging diesel and gasoline engines quicker,” Stephan said.
“And there was a technical problem during the flight over — the hand throttle of the electric para motor failed, and because there was no more thrust, the glider suddenly lost height.”
“We are in the process of clarifying this and are working with everyone and of course we take responsibility and would like to emphasize again that we’re very sorry, and that we apologize to the two people who were harmed.”