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 254.

    We should definitely listen to Campbell cos he's seen it. On video. Therefor his opinion is gospel.

    By the way, are we still looking for that WMD in Iraq? The WMD that we were told by the govt and media that supposedly could hit us within 30 mins?

    The moral of this message is dont believe everything you are told or shown by the media. You have to KNOW for yourself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 253.

    Reading your comments I have impression that you are special sort of people. It is easy to manipulate you and inspire hate towards other nations. BBC presented us ( I'm Polish) as racists and you demand boycott, you offend my country. This is Nazi method. The Nazi propaganda presented the Jews and Poles as persecutors and the Germans hated Poland immediately . Keep more distance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 252.

    First of all, there is huge difference between Poland and Ukraine on all fields: from infrastracture to culture. Describing this 2 country as one is a mistake. Secondly, millions of delighted visitors to Poland is a distinctive prove of our hospitality and modernity. Finally, saying that "you'll come back in a coffin" is, gently speaking, unfair, malicious and shows narrow-mindness and arrogance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 251.

    This goes a lot deeper, and beyond football. Polish people were themselves victims of the Nazis and this makes their perception of the many concentration camp sites in Poland different from ours; the racial aspect of the holocaust has never really penetrated: and many of the worst perpetrators of that horror were drawn from the Ukraine, and no government there has yet faced up to this history.

  • rate this

    Comment number 250.

    It's not Sol Campbell's or anyone else's right to dictate how the culture in other countries should be.
    This is not about culture though, init, it's about racism. Nothing to do with culture. It's more like a disease.

  • Comment number 249.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 248.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 247.

    The tournament haven't even started and you're blowing whistles like it was a disaster. I contemplate and I conclude that perhaps, sometimes people like Sol Campbell are more racism-minded than they should be as they're looking for it or so. You've even shown England's training camp before it's been renovated and don't want to show it now...It states a lot about partiality of BBC - shame on you !

  • Comment number 246.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 245.

    UEFA need to rethink what they have done.They must know that racism is the norm in these countries.UEFA should not reward any country with this type of obscene outlook with the honour of staging such football matches.If UEFA does not withdraw the matches and stage them in another country then England should not play any games at all that are to be held in these outdated and obscene countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 244.

    I've been watching this campaign in English media (and BBC particulary) to discredit Euro 2012 for some time, and can't help but thinking it's just an attempt to make English fans give up on Euro so they go to London Olimpics instead.

    If you want to go to Euro 2012 then by all means go and you'll have the best time of your life.

    And once you return home you can watch London Olimpics in TV. :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    Sorry 'Serbian' : "This is just English media hyping up nothing because they're still sore about losing the World Cup bid."
    If this happened on any English terraces it would be massively reported. You are out of touch by at least 30 years. I found the report sickening. The stewards and police just watched. That club and some 'fans' have a long way to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    The answer as to why Countries like this get to host such tournaments is quite simple - money talks. The response therefore is quite simple - don't go and don't watch. Hit them where it hurts - the pocket! Then the powers that be may sit up and take note in future. What was the beautiful game is now so ugly again. I won't be watching - sponsers take note!

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    Can I draw readers to South Africa, Rugby World Cup 1995, very soon after the end of Apartheid. It was one of the best things to happen to the country to begin to get out of extreme racism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    I am Polish. Thats unfair Sol...Several years ago I had a Ukrainian friend who was a big fan of Arsenal and Sol himself. Im sure my friend would be disappointed listening to Sol's comments now. Im not sure about the situation in Ukraine now but surely in Poland we dont have any major problem with racism... Like in any other country, single incidents probably occur but they are few and far between.

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

    Euro 2012 is big event for Polish and Ukrainian people who welcome all British guests with open hearts.
    We are not racists , anti-Semits, homophobs , xenophobs. This is ugly anti -Polish propaganda. We are normall people like you. Of, course we have problem with hooligans just like other countries including UK . In your country many Polish immigrants were attacked,betaed or even killed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    Funny the Ukrainian football fans should shout , I don't recall Hitler being particularly fond of Ukrainians either.

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    Campbell & co should recognise that the UK is at the liberal extreme of anti-racism, in fact it is so anti-racist it has extremist political correctness to the point were freedom of speech is now curtailed. Racism now appears to be more criminal than theft or burglary. I don't ever remember this being discussed by politicians or included in a manifesto.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    If this is the 'beautiful game', I'd hate to see the 'violent and offensive' game.

  • Comment number 235.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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