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 214.

    "Uefa said the scenes of racist abuse...were at domestic matches and a matter for national football authorities" - So UEFA are basically saying they aren't responsible. I have a couple friends from Poland, and even they have said not to come for the tournament. I'll be taking Sol's advice. The tournament should not have been awarded to countries which so blatently have these issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 213.

    The way for the black players to beat these Nazis is to outplay Ukraine and shut up their so called supporters. UEFA need their heads examining for letting a tournament be held there. This is only one step off the Olympics of 1936 in Berlin.

  • rate this

    Comment number 212.

    Ahh, Eastern Europeans. A special lot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 211.

    "sheila coleman
    We already have their criminals over here causing mayhem, but if caught they know they will only be put in a luxury prison at our expense as they know this country is soft on crime, that if the police bother to investigate at all."

    Could you explain how this is consistent with the fact that the UK has one of the highest absolute and relative prison populations in the EU?

  • rate this

    Comment number 210.

    Simply boycott the games! We should look to protect the interests of our players/supporters etc and just let em get on with it. I second what has been said - Ukraine is not in the Eu so why are the games there? When we had to boycott the cricket for moral and safety reasons we did so why not now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 209.

    At the last two Wales v England internationals in Cardiff, I have witnessed English fans racially taunting Welsh fans so perhaps their own house needs to be put in order first.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Do give these nations a chance BEFORE the tournament starts. Why is Rio Ferdinand not going to Euro 2012? Could it be because of John Terry?
    It is totally irresponsible to publish and broadcast such a program two
    weeks ahead of the games. Double standards, old fashioned prejudice

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    Sadly however in that report did you pick out the P.C. Bridge mentioned many racist where under the age of three !!
    I agree there is a problem. The recent court cases and many shoved under the carpets rerports.
    Politicos making sweeping comments on white peoples devisiness.. Some schools in my area have 75 % ethinc Pakistani Muslims. Yes lots of Issues to solve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    The obvious thing to do is to totally ignore this sad competition of a sad game, I assume that those who watch it enjoy watching paint dry, must more exhilarating than international football.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    195.Jonathan Wayne

    "Black england supporters are entirely safe among white england supporters. "

    "Not been to the Den recently, have you?"

    Have you been to the Den recently or are you merely stereoptyping Millwall fans? If you have been, I assume you won't be going again based on your expereince.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    There are a lot of fascist and racists in the former Eastern Bloc; and this is news?
    Where have the BBC been for the last 20 years? Ask anybody who has followed an English team in Europe and they would have told you this straight away.
    EUFA as per usual have done absolutely nothing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    Nazis have always been on the losing side. Always will be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Yeah, and everyone else knows its better to avoid travelling to Africa because of entrenched racism and violence, but its a media taboo.

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    The human brain is hard-wired to be suspicious of each other due to evolutionary survival.

    However, as the most powerful and over populating species on earth we have to work harder to co-exist and overcome our instincts.

    As for prejudice/racism - it will never go away as we are all equally guilty. Laws may help to improve public behaviour. Ultimately, we all carry some prejudice in our brain?

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Sadly, we cannot expect other countries to be as tolerant when it comes to a different skin colour. I suspect that they are more resistant to immigration and, if the photographs regularly shown on Crimewatch are anything to go on, they see for themselves that the majority of law-breakers are not white-skinned. The majority of black/brown people are good, mercifully.

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    although bbc does a lot more damage then these pathetic racist
    they keep showing prgrammes over the time
    and instill hatred in the minds and hearts of people
    and then they call them selves great britain
    and dont feel shame about it either
    no wonder every second person in uk is under stress and cant sleep
    and they dont care to understand that cause they are not capable of understanding

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    When UEFA fines Manchester City more for being 1 minute late onto the pitchthan they do their opponenets for their fans subjecting the City players to racist abuse, it illustrates perfectly how seriously they'll take this problem...

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Football has often been hijacked by unpleasant and sorry types. I cant think of another sport were world class athletes would be booed because of they're skin colour ... awful

    I would like to see managers taking theyre teams off if racial abuse takes place.

    I myself wont be watching England because of the awful England supporters band who insist on inflicting themselves on us, like it or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    I am truly shocked. I don't care how late in the day it is, we shouldn't go! UEFA made a grave error of judgement, these 2 countries obviously have values that were generated nearly a 100 years ago . Our players should be reasonably safe, in a guarded bubble but all our fans who do not have the "look" that these two nations will accept are walking into a trap. Us and other teams - STAY AWAY!

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    7.Peter_Sym "
    "Black england supporters are entirely safe among white england supporters. "
    Not been to the Den recently, have you?


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