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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  • Comment number 954.

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

  • Comment number 953.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 952.

    Ukrainians and Polish aren't all racist - that would be stereotyping.

    But I just saw the footage of the Asian fans being attacked and I didn't see any police officers during or after the attack.

    THAT'S THE DIFFERENCE - in the UK the police would have helped these people and arrests would've been made. There's clearly a lack of willingness to tackle this problem in these countries.

  • rate this

    Comment number 951.

    I don't think that Poland will stand for this article and programme that has been displayed and I don't think that Polish people will stand for this in this country. Poland and Ukraine will continue with the Euro as will the Poles and Ukrainians here in this country will get on with it - I can definetely say that this video and article has not taken us down, it'll take alot more than that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 950.

    The whole debate shows two things to me - first, there is a certain racism problem in Poland and Ukraine, though to a very different degree in those two countries and not so different from Western Europe as some people here would like to think. Second, there is such a huge ignorance about a part of Europe in the UK that really blows my mind.
    Too much Borat, too little school and traveling imho.

  • rate this

    Comment number 949.

    Whenever Poland is beginning to get back on its feet again, there is always a country to quickly stamp it back down. The question is why? Why stamp a country down that is trying to do good. Why would the BBC really want to try and destroy the reputation for Poland and Ukraine. Lets face it if we went to any country inculding UK and looked round the back streets, we will all find things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 948.

    thousands of­ Brits come to Krakow every month and has anyone ever­ heard of any "racial incidents" taking place­ in there? C'mon, be serious and get a grip...

  • rate this

    Comment number 947.

    Please stop underestimating us Black lads who go down the game cos this ain't nothing new.. Combat 18 tried and got turned over by both Black and White lads cos we are good mates and we all stick together every where through thick and thin.. This a football tournament not a race war but regardless I'll be there supporting the National team. I don't care about Ukraines race issues it's part of life

  • rate this

    Comment number 946.

    A colleague at work went to Poland for a stag weekend (Gdansk). They went into a 'local' bar. The locals said to them "Go (stronger words used) home foreigners" whilst giving a Nazi salute.

    Fingers crossed the tournament runs smoothly but, if I could bet on a referee abandoning a game .. I 'd chuck a few notes on it. Can people reallty dismiss that BBC program lightly? ... Shocking

  • rate this

    Comment number 945.

    To imply that Poland and the Ukraine are full of racist Nazi thugs is as unbalanced a view as a documentary showing scenes of rioting and burning town centres a couple of weeks before the London Olympics. Sol Campbell's comment about fans returnig home in coffins is unwarrated and both he and the BBC should apologise for the damage they have caused to these countries' tourism industry

  • rate this

    Comment number 944.

    England v Ukraine - Play the game
    UK - quick to judge a cake that hasn't yet been baked.

  • rate this

    Comment number 943.

    Abdi, Kudos for Poland indeed, where is the response from the Ukraine ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 942.

    Euro in Poland will be amazing

  • rate this

    Comment number 941.

    This country is not in a good way at the moment - when it needs support where is it going to look to other than all its neighbouring countries that this country keeps bringing down. If it is not the Eurozone, its the Euro that is keeps downgrading. If I was the BBC I would focus on the positives in order to keep a future for this country when it is going to need it. What do you think people ?

  • Comment number 940.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 939.

    860. amarkov80
    Are you suggesting Auschwitz and Birkenau were built and maintained by the Polish?

  • rate this

    Comment number 938.

    So it happens that my English flatmate often goes to Poland on holidays, be it a stag night or bank holiday weekend. He absolutely loves it and says that people are fantastic, friendly, food is delicious and he imagines living there himself provided he had some job in there. Cheap, dirty move from BBC, to slander Euro hosts. If you look for an element you will most likely find it everywhere...

  • rate this

    Comment number 937.

    Many players at the event will not allow their families or friends to risk themselves watching/attending, in what could be a great moment in that individual's players career. What does that tell us ?
    Clearly, they been subjected to "something" they are not happy with ? BUT. I would also ask those very same players - just why do YOU agree to participate ?- you don't have to, do you ? MAKE A STAND !

  • rate this

    Comment number 936.

    "Many European countries are 30-40 years behind the UK in their attitudes to people who gypsies or different coloured skin. Could have held it in Italy, gave it to Ukraine/Poland instead. Why? Money involved?"
    LOL, Italy, with their record of racism, directed among others at their
    Mario Balotelli, should be granted the tournament instead? Talk about stereotyping :>.

  • rate this

    Comment number 935.

    I've been to Ukraine twice and love it. Standing in the centre of Kiev a little smile crossed my face as I closed my hearing off to the Ukrainian language being spoken around me and thought about how my little England used too be!


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