With Euro 2012 just under a week away, one cannot but wonder if UEFA has stuffed up in their decision to award Poland and Ukraine hosting rights. Recently a documentary on the BBC’s Panorama program went to the two countries and looked at the issue of racism in football prevalent at stadiums.
What was broadcast for the next 30 minutes was not very pleasant viewing and instead raised more questions about UEFA and their decisions. UEFA have defended their decision to award the event to the co-hosts also stating that they, “hope the event will provide a platform in which to handle and overcome the issue of racism. Whilst it seems like a simple idea, it seems that UEFA should have said, “we will not allow you to host the event until you have sorted out your issues.”
Former England captain Sol Campbell warned any England fan thinking of going to the event instead advising them to “watch on the telly, stay safer.” This does not paint a very good picture for Poland, Ukraine or UEFA so far out from the biggest international football event of the year. The documentary highlighted the issue with regards to ‘skinheads’ or ‘neo-nazis’ or as they known in the football world, ultras. They were found to be racist towards blacks and jews often performing the Nazi salute and shouting out obscene language towards players. Stadium staff were often helpless to do anything as was highlighted by one very worrying incident.
A group of ultras noticed a group of indian students watching the football game in the family section, it is important to note they were both supporting the same team. Without warning or any motive, the ultras attacked the students who fled whilst stewards and other fans were helpless to do anything. The only motivation for this attack was racial and it did not matter if you supported the same team. Ultras have also been trained in combat as was shown in the documentary and they hold their values very close to their heart, at times attacking each other.
UEFA has potentially placed thousands of tourists at risk of being injured, attacked and possibly killed all due to race, and yet continues to turn a blind eye. UEFA president Michel Platini is adamant in is stance that football can change the fortunes of these countries, yet fails to realise that football is the platform for these heinous acts. We can only hope that nothing happens and the event continues without a glitch. The football should be remembered for just that, and not for any off field events. UEFA will be assessed very closely.
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