Bayern Munich Face UEFA Investigation over 'Gay Gunners' Banner Aimed at Arsenal

Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2014

Bayern's Bastian Schweinsteiger, second left, celebrates with his teammates after scoring the opening goal during the Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match between FC Bayern Munich and FC Arsenal in Munich, Germany, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)
Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Bayern Munich's progression into the Champions League quarterfinals could be dampened after a small section of supporters unveiled a homophobic banner during the round-of-16 second-leg tie with Arsenal.

As reported by Joe Strange of the Daily Mail, the European champions may face punishment for the message that was specifically aimed at German international Mesut Ozil:

Bayern Munich could find themselves in trouble with UEFA after a small section of supporters unveiled a homophobic banner before the second leg of their Champions League clash with Arsenal.

The banner, which featured the words 'Gay Gunners' and an animation of midfielder Mesut Ozil in front of the club's signature cannon, was unfurled ahead of kick-off at the Allianz Arena.

UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Bayern, as confirmed by Sky Sports News:

The banner in question was tweeted by 101 Great Goals and can be seen below, but be warned, this could be NSFW: 

Ozil's night got worse when he was substituted after a dismal first-half performance that saw him complete just 58 percent of his passes and give the ball away five times, per WhoScored.

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

The former Real Madrid star was removed after suffering a suspected hamstring injury that could keep him out for "at least a few weeks," according to Arsene Wenger via BBC Sport. Ozil was also the subject of fierce media retaliation after he failed to positively influence the game, as highlighted by Nick Sutton of BBC Radio 4:

UEFA has taken a firm stance on offensive banners this season and is likely to sanction Bayern for their fans' behaviour. Celtic were fined €50,000 after ultras group The Green Brigade unfurled banners "depicting IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and Scottish historical figure William Wallace," reported by BBC Sport in December 2013.

Ajax received a €25,000 fine after revealing an offensive banner toward Celtic fans just one month earlier, although UEFA originally ordered the maximum fine of €50,000 and a partial stadium closure. This was quickly altered after a "prompt and adequate response" from the club, per the Press Association (via ESPN FC).

Last month, CSKA Moscow were ordered to play their next European fixture behind closed doors after "racist and far-right symbols" were shown during the away trip to Viktoria Plzen, reported by David Kent of the Daily Mail.

Matthias Schrader/Associated Press

Bastian Schweinsteiger's opening goal on the night all but ended Arsenal's dreams of progressing despite Lukas Podolski's thumping strike beyond Manuel Neuer coming three minutes later. Bayern's 2-0 cushion after the first leg, provided to them by Toni Kroos and Thomas Mueller, was always going to be too difficult for the English side to reverse.

Although Bayern comfortably progressed 3-1 on aggregate, the German side will be disappointed to potentially face trouble due to an occurrence in the crowd. The Allianz Arena isn't renowned for misbehaviour, and Pep Guardiola's team will not want to enter the next round with a limited capacity enforced.

Even if the banner was meant in jest, the fans in question must realise they are damaging the club by bringing something potentially offensive into the ground.

Although a smart result on the pitch for the German club, the governing body will soon determine whether the night's earnings will receive a financial dent.