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 714.

    Racism is alive and well in UK football whether its directed against Black people, Irish or Romanies, and yet here the BBC are pointing the finger at others where hopefully football will help break down some of the barriers.

    Aren't England taking a player to the tournament who is about to stand trial on racist charges?

    Poor BBC, really poor

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    To most of ppl Poland and Ukraine may seem to be similar countries, but as a matter of fact poland is 2,5 times richer than ukraine, the sheer fact that ukrainians emigrate to Poland should give some idea how bad it is down there.
    Never did polish hooligans imitaded nazi behaviour. The antijewish however was spotted.( its a nationalist legacy from late XIX, which is earlier than hitler)

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    Mr.Campbell is miffed that he has never won a world or Euro Trophy and is trying to spoil it for everyone else.
    Yes, that'll be it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 711.

    mmmmmhhhhh....terry, suarez etc. why you doing bad atmosphere before euro. WHY??????????????

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    I totally agree with you Mas, I am Pole as well and living in London caused many troubles for me. One of the worst ones was racism that is comming from many people here and the media just try to hide it and not talk about it. The things that I hear around the school about minor ethnic groups! If that would break into the public eye, I don't think Poland would look racist then. JUST LEAVE IT YEAH!

  • rate this

    Comment number 709.

    To add to my previous comment, I am sick of being treated as an inferior form of life here in Britain, especially after showing so much respect to everyone around me. Look at yourself before you start judging others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 708.

    I am really surprised that this has hit the news as something out of left field. Whether some people want to believe it or not, racism, and in particular extreme right wing feelings and displays are, unfortunately, not without precedence in these two countries, and in Eastern Europe in general. UEFA could have found this out earlier, and acted accordingly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 707.

    Campbell has never been in Poland. He is crazy man. In Cracow there is no problem with racism. There is only problem with drunk noisy and peeing everywhere British bechelors and plebeians!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 706.

    the racist never considers themself as one until someone else points it out and yes i have used racists terms in anger and so have some my family i admit it as hiding it only makes it worse i am not proud of it but it is a fact of life and pretending otherwise would be of no benefit i am of pakistani, jamaican, welsh heritage and i stand against racism as much as possible but admit i am no saint

  • rate this

    Comment number 705.

    @698 Jonathan Wayne

    Such self-serving, full-of-yourself opinions as quoted before give you away. As for the contact with different cultures, traveling around the world - this too fits the tradition of English colonialism and its stance on your "being ahead of everyone else" ;>.

  • rate this

    Comment number 704.

    This article is a purest form of western idealism. I am from Ukraine but live in London, and never encountered so many racial conflicts as here. you cannot judge the whole country by one incident. If you remember that video of woman on the train in England who was shouting at immigrants. what does it say about all mighty racism-free "Team GB"! Please, don't fall into the media trap, use ur brain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 703.

    I am Polish, I have lived in the UK for 7 years and I am offended by the way the problem of racism in Poland has been approached by the British media. I've been a victim of racism in Britain several times, my wife has been called a "Polish prostitute" in the street by a passer-by. I honestly feel racism in the UK is a bigger problem than in Poland. The difference is UK has resources to fight it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 702.

    Sol do you know how many black or Asian people live in Poland? and no one kills or does not eat - you are backward, and maybe you're a racist. Do you you were in Poland, so to speak.
    Your brother judge my game and I'll tell you where I felt the racism, maybe you have a family.
    In London, stabbed as much as a month in Poland for 5 years
    how much is a month in

  • rate this

    Comment number 701.

    As a matter of fact, working for a global language services provider, I communicate with professionals all over the world almost every day.
    But let's not make this about me eh? lol

  • rate this

    Comment number 700.

    we dont wont multicultularisim and we have right to say that its our land

  • rate this

    Comment number 699.

    Can football possibly do more to make itself look worse?

    This really is the end of my interest in international football - it's disgusting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 698.

    691. Aplegat
    " being full of yourself, without bothering much about getting to know those "everyone else".
    How do you know I don't bother much about getting to know "everyone else"? For all you know, I've travelled the whole world. As a matter of fact, working for a global language services provider, I communicate with professionals all over the world almost every day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 697.

    BBC seems to show a lot of hate towards Poland and not only about Euro.What is the point of doing Panorama focused on the issue of racism in Poland, you will not change anything. This is what the country is like and it is mainly caused by its past. Can England for once share a joy with Poland about Euro and not try to slag it off.I wondered why people have such a bad opinion on Poland? Now I know

  • rate this

    Comment number 696.

    Why haven't these countries been banned from the competition, as English teams have been in the past for various transgressions by supporters. To award them the competition was simply to reward and sanction their appalling attitudes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 695.

    When will racists realise that they are more hated by their own race than by the races they hate.
    The last time racists managed to gain control of a country nearly the entire world allied to take them down. I mean if that isn't a clue that you should just give-up than I don't know what is.


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