Sol Campbell warns fans to stay away from Euro 2012


Chris Rogers witnessed racist violence at a match in Kharkiv, Ukraine

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Euro 2012 should not have been awarded to Poland and Ukraine because of entrenched racism and violence, Sol Campbell has told the BBC's Panorama.

The former England captain's advice to fans is to "stay home, watch it on TV... don't even risk it."

Uefa, European football's governing body, said awarding the tournament to the two nations was an opportunity to tackle social challenges like racism.

It said the tournament was a chance for both countries to improve their image.

Panorama spent a month filming at matches in both the joint host nations and witnessed Nazi salutes from the terraces, black players being taunted with monkey chants, rampant anti-Semitism and a vicious assault on a group of Asian students.

'Zero tolerance'

After watching the footage, Mr Campbell said he believes Uefa should not have chosen the countries as hosts of such a prestigious event in the first place.

"I think that they were wrong, because what they should say is that 'if you want this tournament, you sort your problems out. Until we see a massive improvement... you do not deserve these prestigious tournaments in your country.'"

Sol Campbell reacts to video of racist attacks in Euro 2012 host nations.

In a statement, Uefa said: "Uefa Euro 2012 brings the spotlight on the host countries and clearly creates an opportunity to address and confront such societal issues.

"Uefa's 'zero tolerance' approach to racism is still valid both on and off the pitch and ultimately the referee has the power to stop or abandon a match should racist incidents occur."

Uefa said it was working with both Poland and Ukraine to ensure the safety of travelling teams and their fans.

But despite these assurances the families of two England players, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, are reported to be staying away from Euro 2012 for fear of racist attacks.

Uefa said the scenes of racist abuse filmed by the BBC in the last month were at domestic matches and a matter for national football authorities.

But Mr Campbell had this advice for fans thinking of travelling to Euro 2012: "Stay at home, watch it on TV. Don't even risk it… because you could end up coming back in a coffin."

Racist attack
Supporters doing Nazi salute at a Ukrainian football stadium In Ukraine, Nazi salutes were directed at opposing fans by thousands of supporters

On 14 April at the Metalist stadium in Kharkiv in Ukraine - one of the host cities for Euro 2012 - massed ranks of as many as 2,000 fans in the terraces for a match between two of Ukraine's biggest teams gave the Nazi salute to their team.

Some fans at the match told the BBC that they were saying "Sieg Heil" because Hitler hated "Jews and blacks" and that is how they support their team.

But local police chief Colonel Volodymyr Kovrygin denied that it was a Nazi-inspired salute, saying the fans were "pointing in the direction of opponents as it were, the fans, so it looked like they were pointing with the right hand to the fans, kind of attracting attention to themselves."

At a match two weeks later, scuffles broke out between rival fans and police arrived to calm things down. But they escalated again as Metalist fans began to attack a small group of their own supporters.

They were Indian students studying in Ukraine. They had sat in the family area of the stadium thinking it would be safe.

Panorama: Find out more

BBC Panorama logo
  • Chris Rogers presents Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate
  • BBC One, Monday, 28 May at 20:30 BST

In the stadium's medical room afterwards, one of the injured students said: "We were supporting the home team. It's horrifying."

British government advice for Euro 2012 fans of Afro-Caribbean or Asian descent is to take extra care in Ukraine because of racially motivated attacks.

Panorama also filmed matches in fellow host-nation Poland, recording a chorus of anti-Semitic chanting and witnessing black football players enduring monkey chants from the terraces.

Nick Lowles from the UK-based anti-racist monitoring group Hope Not Hate was also in Poland monitoring incidents of racism.

He said that based on what he has seen, he was concerned for non-white fans travelling to support England at Euro 2012.

"Increasingly the positive thing about English football are the number of black and Asian fans that have been travelling and supporting England. I am concerned that they will be targeted by racists and fascists and anti-Semites in Poland and in Ukraine."

In Poland, Jonathan Ornstein of the Jewish Cultural Centre, said football hooligans in the country are stuck in the past.

"The stuff going on at the football stadiums is atrocious and it's embarrassing and I think it embarrasses the whole country. I think that most Poles would agree with that," he said.

Panorama's Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate, BBC One, Monday, 28 May at 20:30 BST and then available in the UK on the BBC iPlayer.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    Alot of people commenting on here have never been ukraine,most probably dont know where it is. i've been many times, im asian my wife is ukrainian. ukraine is very close to the middle east, it would suprise people to hear that there is huge cultral influence on ukraine, they dont hate the arabs or thier skin, also you can get sushi in EVERY resturant, so they are not that closed minded!

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    "Euro 2012 should not have been awarded to Poland and Ukraine because of entrenched racism and violence, Sol Campbell has told the BBC's Panorama."

    Note how racism then goes on to get more column inches than violence.

    So a typical BBC report then

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    I've no doubt this programme will have some shocking revelations but...

    The tournament kicks off in two weeks! It's all very well Panorama saying it might be dangerous & Sol Campbell telling people not to go but how long ago will people have bought their tickets? How long ago was it that the hosts were awarded the tournament?

    Like people complaining about the Olympics cost, it's all too late.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    "Mainland Europe is as racist as its always been. "
    Really? The whole of mainland Europe? What facts do you base that sweeping statement on?

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    If we were serious, I mean really serious, about racism, we wouldn't be sending an England team at all. But of course we are. Draw your own conclusions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    bbc is only showing the real side off football where if you are not white but love the game you will be attacked just the same as if you are gay in these countries, why would i travel to a country to watch a sport that i enjoy but fear i will be beaten up because of the colour of my skin the violence is there and needs to be stopped

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Gregor Gowans
    1 Hour ago

    There are some bad right wing guys out here, but they are a tiny minority. The stadiums are safe, and there are virtually no racist chants (although you do get the odd idiot doing so) Last year Dundee Utd came to play and the fans were having a laugh together on the rynek

    how many of those visiting scots were black or asian?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    At least it's not de-jure racism, as in the law represent everyone as equal even in the football fans don't. I'd be more concerned about the medieval nation of Qatar, there it'll not only be de-facto, but de-jure as well. Still, I think Sol's advice is right, regardless of your race, I wouldn't want to risk going there these football governing body's ought to get their act together.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    @123 I didn't say Britain has moved on from racism, I said we have came a long way whilst still acknowledging the odd incident does occur. It's ambitious to think it can ever be totally eradicated but I think the typical English sports fan and the majority of players set a good example for other nations i.e. Spain, Poland, Ukraine, Russia, Turkey....

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    I keep reading here about how certain people in authority may have been taking bribes to hold events in certain parts of the world. Pretty sure that cant be true. Anyway, I'm off to the Somalia Regatta.

  • Comment number 164.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    113. tnek_CFP
    Another International event with British participation, another chance for the BBC to have a pop at the hosts.

    Sorry but its not having a pop its just a warning... are the foreign office also having a pop with their long standing Ukranian travel advice:

    "Travellers of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent and individuals belonging to religious minorities should take extra care."

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.


    20 Minutes ago

    Communism was about equality & the greater good.

    Communism, a middle european quasi-religion, was about indoctrination and totalitarianism. Thats why it was rejected by 100% of the populations it was forced upon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    This is just the same as the not so long ago problems surrounding the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix - no-one really cared as long as nothing happened to them and as long as the race went ahead.

    It would be nice if fans for a change stood up and hit the organisations responsible where it hurts, in their wallets - by boycotting the events.

    Fat chance of that happening though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.

    In the same way we made a stand against Suarez's behaviour at home we need to get across the same message abroad.

    Hodgson needs to make it clear to the FA and his players his stance. If it is "zero tolerance" he should instruct his players to walk off the pitch at the first overt sign of racist chanting.

    Then the worldwide press coverage of that event may get people to wake up and take note.

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.

    One thing that UEFA must not do is regret picking Poland and Ukraine to host Euro 2012. What the Polish and Ukrainian FAs must do is pursue the "kick racism out of football" campaign to every team in their leagues. Supporters need to be told racism cannot be tolerated and they are influenced by inspiring footballers. I really hope racism does not overshadow what should be a fantastic tournement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    I am Asian (Indian blood), my wife is ukrainian. i have been to kiev and south ukraine many many times.

    i have never ever had any problems, in fact quite the opposite, no one even noticed i was different! i was expecting they would and i would get attention, but nothing at all.

    After being occupied by the russians for so long, i think ukrainians just want to live their lives peacefully

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    lots of comments suggesting that these countries are somehow "behind us" as if solving racism is linear, it isn't, it's very fluid and it takes education. We may have managed to push it underground and make it socially unacceptable but we are producing thousands of uneducated street rats for whom the colour of someones skin is just another reason for them to use as a reason to differentiate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Maybe its about time some of the teams took i stance. If the England players are being abused and it is being clearly heard by the match officials as well. Then the players should speak to the ref and just walk off the pitch. If the whole team refuses to come back out and restart the match then imagine the embarressment to UEFA and the massive impact this would have in the news

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.

    As Tony Evans said this morning, you can tell precisely where UEFA's priorities lie: racism barely registers. In April, Porto was fined £15,000 for racist chants during a Europa League game and Manchester City fined £25,000 for kicking off the 2nd half of a match 1 minute late in the same competition. I'll go one better than Sol Campbell and won't watch any match being played in the Ukraine.


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