BBC Panorama - Euro 2012 - Stadiums Of Hate May 31, 2012 22:45:49 GMT -5
Post by Emperor AAdmin on May 31, 2012 22:45:49 GMT -5
Euro 2012: BBC documentary ‘Stadiums of Hate’ sparks fears over racism, violence in Poland and UkraineMay 29, 2012. 11:38 am • Section: Sports
Was it really such a good idea to hold Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine?
That’s a question that arises after watching the BBC Panorama documentary “Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate.” Reporter Chris Rogers spent a month watching football matches in Poland and Ukraine, and what he found is that both racism and violence persist to a shocking degree among supporters there.
The documentary’s concerns, however, have been swiftly dismissed by tournament organizers. Polish organizers were quoted in an Agence France-Presse story saying that warnings about racism and violence were “unjust” and that the issue of xenophobia was a problem for Europe, and not just Poland. Meanwhile a Ukrainian organizer is calling on the media to take a more “balanced” approach to covering the tournament, asking them to put a “moratorium” on all negative information about Euro 2012.
The documentary itself is very shocking. Rogers visits a stadium in Lodz, Poland, where supporters known as “Ultras” abuse the opposition with chants like “Jewish w**re” and “Hey, hey, who’s not jumping is a Jew.”
Then he goes to Warsaw, where a white supremacist group known as “White Power” has formed around one of the city’s biggest clubs. They flash supremacist symbols at matches and break out in fights with opposition and police.
And that’s just Poland. While in Ukraine, Rogers witnesses monkey chants at black players and supporters… and police present at the match don’t do a thing about it.
The scene is bad enough that the families of English stars Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will not even attend the tournament. It is serious enough that former England captain Sol Campbell, interviewed in the BBC documentary, is encouraging English fans to stay home instead of travelling to Eastern Europe to support the team.
Campbell’s words, in particular, are what draw the ire of defensive tournament organizers who are pretending there isn’t a problem. As mentioned earlier, Polish organizers invite Campbell to visit the country and “Get to know us as we really are.” Then Ukraine’s Euro 2012 organizing committee chief Markiyan Lubyivskyi “fail(s) to see what the point of these comments really is.” Then he’s quoted calling for the media to impose a crackdown on its own coverage.
Having lived in Vancouver, an Olympic city, I know it can be annoying to be criticized from abroad when you don’t feel like the international media are getting all the facts. But this reporter spent a whole month in Poland and Ukraine, watching and documenting football fans displaying some outlandish behaviour at football matches. The officials in this case have done a laughably poor job of managing issues that will only exacerbate the brewing PR disaster that the tournament threatens to become.
You really have to wonder where FIFA and UEFA’s heads are at when it comes to racism. They claim to be doing something about the problem, but then they award an international tournament to two countries where white supremacists are permitted to roam free in the stands. And that’s without even mentioning the 2018 World Cup, to be held in Russia, also not a beacon of racial tolerance, as the Guardian reports.
The tournament threatens to cap off what has been a banner year for racism in football. You had the John Terry controversy, the racial abuse of Patrice Evra by Luis Suarez, a fine against the Porto club after fans did monkey chants at Mario Balotelli, and now the possibility of blacks and Jews facing the wrath of fascistic supporters’ bases in Poland and Ukraine.
Organizers better have a plan for dealing with racism and violence. Because their words indicate they don’t plan to do a damn thing about it.