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England Fans told to Avoid Euro 2012

Euro 2012 LogoEuro 2012 is to be hosted by Poland and Ukraine when it kicks off next week. However, England fans have been warned against travelling to the nations to support their team due to racism and violence. The warning came from former Arsenal and Tottenham defender Sol Campbell, who says England fans should avoid travelling to Euro 2012 due to these threats. He advises them to stay home and watch the games on television rather than risk it.

Campbell also said that the Uefa, which is the governing body of European football, shouldn’t have awarded the hosting job to Poland and Ukraine because of this. However, the organisation said awarding the role to the two countries gives them the chance to tackle social threats like racism. The tournament gives them the opportunity to improve their image, it added.

For a month, television series Panorama filmed at matches in both Poland and Ukraine. During that time, they witnessed Nazi salutes from terraces, a vicious assault on a group of students from Asia, black players being taunted with monkey chants, and uncontrolled anti-Semitism. On April 14, up to 2,000 fans in the terraces of Metalist stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine – which is a Euro 2012 host city – gave the Nazi salute to their team. Some of them said that’s how they support the team, because Hitler hated Jews and blacks. Local police chief Colonel Volodymyr Kovrygin denied it was a Nazi-inspired salute and said fans were pointing at the opponents.

Campbell said, after seeing the footage, that he believes the Uefa shouldn’t have picked the nations as hosts of such a prestigious event to begin with. He thinks they were wrong and should have told the countries to sort out their problems before being awarded the job.

The Uefa said in a statement that Euro 2012 brings the spotlight on the host countries and creates the opportunity to confront and address such issues within society. The organisation’s zero tolerance approach to racism is still valid on and off the pitch, and the referee ultimately has the power to stop or abandon a match if racist incidents happen. They assured that they are working with both countries to ensure the travelling teams and their fans remain safe. The scenes of racism filmed by Panorama were at domestic matches and a matter for national authorities, it added.

Despite this statement, Campbell has advised fans thinking about making the journey to Euro 2012 to stay home because they could end up returning in a coffin if they risk it. On top of this, two of England’s players’ families are said to be staying home instead of going to Euro 2012 over fear of racist attacks. These players are Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott.

Meanwhile, the British government has issued its own advice to Asian and Afro-Caribbean fans who wish to travel to Poland and Ukraine to support England to take extra care. Nick Lowles, a member of anti-racist monitoring group Hope Not Hate, monitored racism incidents in Poland over the last month. He says he’s concerned for non-white England fans going to Euro 2012. He’s concerned Asian and black fans going to support the team will be targeted by fascists, anti-Semites and racists in Poland and Ukraine.




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