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 234.

    Let's hope there are no racist incidents at this tournament, as we would for any tournament. In the event of racist chanting, attacks or deaths, UEFA should be held directly liable. You do not award a tournament as an "opportunity to address...such issues", no more than you rehabilitate a group of violent racist football fans by giving them free tickets to the most volatile matches.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    Having just returned from a youth tournament in central europe with an english team - I can confirm racism is alive and well.

    We had to put up with black kids being jeered and taunted by parents and children alike - totally shocking. Organiser do not see this as a problem.

    STOP defending countries along national lines - it is endemic - I work a lot in eastern Europe and racism is normal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    It is inhumane to expect others to be treated like this and to knowingly expose them to this. And, the white men making the decisions are not the ones being subjected to this degrading treatment. Very magnanimous of them to believe that it is worth it for all the brown/black people to be exposed to this. I note they are not planning any games in Zimbabe. Think of the the social change...

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    If you love football then watch the game.
    If you care about the game then avoid Ukraine.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    Ukrainian football fans making nazi salutes clearly never heard of this:
    1942 Dynamo Kiev played a Luftwaffe team for German propaganda purposes. The Ukranian team won and were sent to the concentration camps

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    "Royal Blue Hakuren
    UK, country which invented racism as a part of national policy during age of colonialism"

    Perhaps then you can explain what the many historical examples such as what Greeks meant by calling foreigners "barbarians", the many biblical examples of violence against foreigners, the Roman practices of enslaving conquered alien peoples, the Spanish and Arab slave trades etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    I would go but I don't like cabbage !

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    205. Robbo; 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.
    Yep. It’s my local team but I follow someone else. I went to the away game this season. Not for the first time, but yes, for the last and not only because we got promoted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    191. RBLondon

    No I haven't been - therefore I only have second hand accounts of the situation to go on. It doesn't make me ignorant to base opinions on information I've seen - more info may change my opinion.

    I'd be most inclined to believe the Govt on this one, as no doubt their travel advice should arise from information provided by our embassy staff in Kiev - who hopefully know the country.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    The images in the report were shocking. Why those in Eastern Europe make nazi salutes given what their countires endured is beyond me. The eastern states clearly have long way to go in terms of tolerance for those of a differing race, religion or sexuality. I've been to Poland several times as have Polish friends and its not fair to tar them all with this brush, many will be as shocked as we are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    FIFA have made a big mistake here, and I predict that this competition will see the worst violence since Charleroi in 2000. To see these cretins using the Nazi salute sickens me; though I find it amusing that they are too stupid to understand that Hitler,the man they idolise for his racism, considered them "untermensch" and would also have exterminated their forebears, had he won the War.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    I'd still like to know what other research Campbell has done to support his position other than sitting down with the panorama team and being shown their video.Has he done his own independant research into the matter before coming to his strong stance,or has he allowed his opinion to be dictated to him on the spot in an interview?What is he prepared to do to find out himself rather than being told

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    Some people here are being deliberately obtuse. To say racism exists in every country is to miss the point entirely. The chasm of difference between say the UK and Ukraine comes from the attitudes of the authorities when such racism does occur. Unfortunately, judging by the video, it appears that the Ukrainian authorities ignore it completely, with the violent consequences that can be seen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    Whilst it is too late to change the hosting for 2012 - if there are any serious racially related incidents on the host territory during the competition - that host should be elimiated from 2012 and banned for 20 years for both the Euro and World cups. A generation can then go without international football until the next one hopefully behaves better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    Its a crazy world when here we are in 2012 and still some people are racist, when we all learn that its not the colour of your skin or your ethnicity, its whats inside the person that counts. The news pictures shown on the BBC are horrifying and the stewards and police just stand and do nothing so clearly the authorities in Ukraine condone it. The competition should not be there, UAFA are wrong!

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    It is a disgrace that the UK Foriegn Office is still not officially advising people from ethnic minorities NOT to travel to the Ukraine and Poland! Does someone have to die before the government acts appropriately!

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    Ueaf have been totally irresponsible to have awarded these 2 countries the Euro's. THEY have endangered players & supporters alike.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 217.

    At least it's not de-jure racism, as in the law represents everyone as equal even if the football fans don't. I'd be more concerned about the medieval state 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 216.

    It's not Sol Campbell's or anyone else's right to dictate how the culture in other countries should be. Just enjoy the football and forget the politics. There will always be differences of opinion and different approaches to what we see as bigotry, but it is not our problem , it is theirs. Criticising and demanding reform tends to harden opposition to change and makes the problem worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 215.

    135.Royal Blue Hakuren

    1) Saying that the UK 'invented racism' is complete nonsense and there is no evidence to back up your claim.

    2) Harking back to a point in history many decades ago to make your point is ridiculous...what matters is what countries are doing about racism NOW, and countries such as the UK a very visibly working hard to stamp it out while countries such as Poland aren't.


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