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 594.

    Maybe Ukraine IS a wild country, but don't judge Poland if you haven't been here! Jesus, this is really annoying when suddenly you guys act like real experts... I have been in England and I can't say a bad word about most of the people I met there but when I see drunk english "tourists" in Poland, shouting and counting on cheap women and then I see your comments it makes me mad...

  • rate this

    Comment number 593.

    Shevchenko comments there is no racism at all in ukraine, he is as deluded as the people who awarded the competition to poland/urkaine. Hundred of supporters shouting sieg heil and attacking foreigners is part of the pre match build up

  • rate this

    Comment number 592.

    After all that happened to Ukraine under Nazi Germany where millions of their innocent men, women and children were massacred by the SS how can these morons possibly be so far right wing? What's their point?

    I am thick skinned but I think the FA should withdraw the England team under these circumstances.

  • Comment number 591.

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

  • Comment number 590.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 589.

    Football Inc is run by old white men. In this country they may have been forced to visibly tackle racism in the stands but they have still done absolutely nothing to protect gay players. They've closed their eyes to the dangers for non-white people here, what do they think is going to happen to women and gay men in Qatar? Anything that doesn't affect a white man is not even on their radar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 588.

    I have just one question to mr. Sol Campbell. Mr. Sol, when was the last time you were in Poland?

  • rate this

    Comment number 587.

    @582 Im Polish and i agree with u!!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 586.

    Actually many Ukrainians were happy to assist the Nazis and many joined the SS Death squads behind the front or became KZ guards. Poles hated the Nazis but were racist themselves thanks to the barbaric views of the then Pope Pious XII. Conservative Christianity is at the heart of this evil because it worships mamon or Satan and not Jesus who was for the humble and poor against the Rich.

  • rate this

    Comment number 585.

    Is this story accurate? I mean, at least one other story on the BBC main page is a pack of propaganda and lies today.

    So i can't really make a decision on how accurate this story is until I get some facts from a reputable news source (or first hand)

  • rate this

    Comment number 584.

    I get the distinct whiff of hypocrisy from this discussion. I brought my young son to Old Trafford and was appalled at the aggressively racist nature of the chants from both the home and away fans. One such chant directed at an African born player ended "...your father washes elephants and your mother's a **ore". I have never brought my son to a Premier League match since and don't intend to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 583.

    I have a life chris, a multicultural life. I live in what people like you call a mixed marrage. My wife is a non muslim from a muslim country. I know about racism I also know that for too long people like Sol Campbell jump on any chance to prove its always the white guy. Racism its not just white people. Often whites are in the minority. Time the media reported that. Or is that to childish also.

  • rate this

    Comment number 582.

    What amazes me is that Poles and Ukranian fans can Nazi salute without a thought for their forefathers that were massacred under the Nazi rule. Especially the Poles, are they so stupid and uneducated as to do this. Poland and the Ukraine need to cut this out not just for nations with black players but for the sakes of Poles and Ukrainians themselves that suffered in WW2. Shameful!

  • rate this

    Comment number 581.

    Funny, my comment on BBC apparently belonging to Rupert Murdoch media group now didn't make it here; I guess the users can only make more direct comments at other users, any critique of the host media is immediately cut :).

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    #556 "don't assume that all insults and violence towards black people are racist"

    I remember an incident on a coach trip where a visiting black American was nagging the driver for a bottle opener. Driver gets annoyed and says "I haven't got one, open it with your lips". A massive argument erupted, with all the Americans adamant it was racist, and the Brits equally sure it wasn't meant that way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.

    I dont know why we bother to take part in any sport in countries where racism is rife, those countries that deny that it exists should be black listed and barred from taking part in international competition including the Olympics until they can show that racism will not be tolerated in any form, either inside or in the vicinity of any venue,and will be stamped on by the authorities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    I saw the BBC report just recently on the news and was disgusted at what these rightwing thugs are doing in Poland and the Ukraine. Did anyone tell them that the Nazis murdered not just 6 million Jews but 3 million Poles and another 3 million died due to the War. As for the Ukraine the Nazis massacred millions. Just wondered what basket case these present day Poles and Ukranians come from.

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    Anyway, how Poles can be racist if Poland got 3 players which cant speak Polish:D

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    its endemic amonst the east european syche, whilst they are very hard working over here and keep quiet as soon as they go back to eastern europe they mock London

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    To be fair the way most British people treat Poland when they go on holiday there for the Stag and Hen weekends, it would be understandable if they hated us.

    When we were over there we were chatting to a local guy who had no problem with Brits as he had lived in the UK and knew most of us were okay, but said many people only see the roudy drunk ones and hence have a very low view of us.


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