Greenpeace apologizes, local police slam Euro 2020 protestor
AFP , Wednesday 16 Jun 2021

A paraglider, who flew inside the stadium sporting a message from environmental action group Greenpeace, is escorted by securtiy after landing on the pitch before the start of the UEFA EURO 2020 Group F football match between France and Germany at the Allianz Arena in Munich on June 15, 2021. (AFP)
Greenpeace has apologized and Munich police are investigating after a protestor parachuted into the stadium and injured two people before Germany's game against France at the European Championship.
The protestor used a powered paraglider with a motor attached to his back but lost control and hit overhead camera wires attached to the stadium roof, careening over spectators' heads before he landed on the field ahead of Tuesday's game. Debris fell on the field and main grandstand, narrowly missing France coach Didier Deschamps.
Greenpeace spokesperson Benjamin Stephan apologized for the botched protest and the injuries caused.
``That was never our intention,`` Stephan said. ``The paraglider was to fly over the stadium and drop a latex ball with a message of protest onto the field.''
Munich police said Wednesday they were investigating various potential violations of the criminal code and aviation act.
``The pilot injured two men during the landing approach. The injured were given medical care by the emergency services and taken to hospitals for further care,'' Munich police said in a statement.
The police said none of the injuries were serious and the pilot himself _ a 38-year-old man with an address in the southwestern state of Baden Wurttemberg _ was unharmed.
``There is no understanding whatsoever for such irresponsible actions in which a considerable risk to human life is accepted,'' the police said.
The protestor's parachute had the slogan ``KICK OUT OIL!'' and ``Greenpeace'' written on it.
The parachutist managed to land on the field and Germany players Antonio Rudiger and Robin Gosens were the first to approach him. He was then led away by security stewards.
``Technical difficulties meant the pilot was forced to land in the stadium,'' Stephan said. ``We deeply regret that this put people in danger and apparently injured two persons.''
UEFA called the action ``reckless and dangerous'' and said ``law authorities will take the necessary action.''
The German soccer federation also condemned the action.
``It could probably have turned out much worse,'' Germany team spokesman Jens Grittner said.
UEFA and one of its top-tier tournament sponsors, Russian state energy firm Gazprom, have previously been targeted by Greenpeace protests.
In 2013, a Champions League game in Basel was disrupted when Greenpeace activists abseiled from the roof of the stadium to unfurl a banner protesting Russian oil and Gazprom, which sponsored the visiting team, German club Schalke.
Greenpeace later donated money to a charity supported by Basel, which was fined by UEFA for the security lapse.
UEFA defended its environmental credentials in a statement on Tuesday after the incident.
``UEFA and its partners are fully committed to a sustainable Euro 2020 tournament,'' UEFA said, ``and many initiatives have been implemented to offset carbon emissions.''
(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)
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