Football

Racism fears mount ahead of Euro 2012

There have been particular issues in Kharkiv. (©GettyImages)
There have been particular issues in Kharkiv. (©GettyImages).

Former England defender Sol Campbell has warned fans not to attend the European Championships in Poland or Ukraine this summer - or risk 'coming back in a coffin'

The families of Arsenal duo Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have already taken the decision not to go to Euro 2012, owning to fears of racism and violence.

Walcott's father and brother will not be supporting him as they are worried about potential 'racist attacks' and Campbell has added to growing concerns regarding the suitability of Poland and Ukraine to host the tournament.

Speaking to BBC's Panorama programme, Campbell urged fans to shelve plans to attend the competition, and instead support England from home, so serious are the threats that face them.

"Stay at home, watch it on TV," explained the former Arsenal and Tottenham centre-back. "Don't even risk it ... because you could end up coming back in a coffin."

This stark warning from Campbell provides further evidence of the increasing worry that racial tension could escalate in Poland and Ukraine during Euro 2012, while it also raises questions as to why Uefa awarded these countries the tournament in the first instance.

Campbell, for one, cannot comprehend Uefa's decision to allow such a prestigious competition to be hosted in nations where racial issues would still appear to run particularly deep.

"I think that they were wrong, because what they should say is that if you want this tournament you sort your problems out," added Campbell on the decision of Uefa to grant Poland and Ukraine the tournament.

"Until we see a massive improvement, that you have sorted (it) out, you are never going to get the tournament. You do not deserve these prestigious tournaments in your country."

The BBC documentary, which is screened on Monday evening, investigates violence and racism in the host countries and shows footage of fans taunting black players, giving Nazi salutes and using anti-Semitic chants.

Hooligans are also shown to be attacking a group of Asian students at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv, where Holland will meet Germany in a glamour tie on June 13.

FIFPro secretary-general Theo van Seggelen has previously raised concerns over the track record of racism and violent behaviour in the host countries, in particular Ukraine, and said that opposition supporters would find it 'very difficult' this summer.

Players are also at risk, with a FIFPro survey claiming that over over ten percent of professional players in eastern Europe have been victims of violence - predominantly from supporters - while almost as many say they have been subjected to racism

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