With the European Championships just round the corner all eyes turn to the host nations, Poland and Ukraine. In many ways this is just another championship in two ordinary countries in a exiting summer of sport. However, this championship could prove to be at the heart of the most controversial decision UEFA has ever made. By allowing the Euros to take place in Poland and Ukraine UEFA may be lumping their own heads on to the chopping board. The choice to allow Poland and Ukraine to host such a prestigious European football tournament could have dramatic consequences. It has been revealed that both nations are home to a horrific racist footballing culture. With this in mind we have to ask the question whether UEFA awarded the Euros aware of these barbaric attitudes, and if they were not, why they were unaware of the situation at hand?
I had read a few articles and heard the odd rumour that Polish and Ukrainian football fans could be racist, even to the point of undertaking racist attacks on other supporters and players alike. An awful thing to hear, especially when the UEFA are continually taking steps to rid football of racism. However, I didn’t really grasp the full magnitude of the problem that is blatant racism in these nations, until I watched the BBC Panorama programme Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate. To understand the extent of the behaviour adopted by football fans you have to watch the programme. There behaviour can no longer be graced with the title Right Wing politics, it can only be described as hateful, anti-Semitic nazism.
These stadiums are a breading ground for prejudices, enmity and hostility to mere scapegoats labelled as the stimulus for their hate. These stadiums are the same ones fans from countries all over Europe will be sitting, singing and celebrating in. Does it seem right to welcome men, women and children into a place that houses an atmosphere resembling the horrific years of Nazi Germany?
It was very saddening to discover the racism that was so blatant in Poland and Ukraine, whether only in the footballing community or not, that is no excuse whatsoever. I sincerely hope UEFA have not, as I have, just discovered the situation they have entered players from all ethnic backgrounds into. This could seriously be a disaster. UEFA may have just opened a can of worms too big to swallow. UEFA must be accountable to the actions that take place in the host nations, after all UEFA were the ones gladly giving Poland and Ukraine the seat in the spotlight.
I can only hope that Poland and Ukraine are not embarrassed by these minorities who believe there is still a place for racism, let alone neo-nazis viewpoints in today’s world. In no way do I want an act of racism to be a feature of Euros 2012, however, I also don’t want these diseased cultures to go on unrecognised. There must be action taken against those who openly exclaim that ‘Jews should be hated’. There is something seriously wrong with a culture that overlooks the exclamation of racial hatred.
I had naively believed, hoped, that human nature had moved on from the past and learnt from the costly actions of others that in no way can racism, antisemitism or general hatred of an ethnic group be acceptable. We must destroy this misplaced anger, we have to, it is imperative if we are to survive as a species.