Euro 2012 Football Kicks off amid Racist Gimmicks
-COL DR. ABDUL RUFF
Euro 2012 has begun despite racist threats and similar gimmicks to obstruct the event in Eastern Europe. “Warsaw Welcomes You” read a cheery sign draped over Warsaw’s gargantuan, Soviet-era Palace of Culture. Europe’s largest fanzone with a 100,000-person capacity sprawled in its shadow, complete with a stage, massive TV screens and medical aid points.
Euro 2012 was kicking off in Poland and Ukraine on 09 June amid fears that racism and politics could overshadow Europe’s premier football showcase, held for the first time in nations once behind the Iron Curtain.
Racist trouble began with a BBC television documentary that was broadcast last month showed football fans in the two countries making Nazi salutes, taunting black players with monkey chants, and beating Asian students. Ukraine’s ambassador to London Volodymyr Khandogiy on inaugural day slammed the move, telling BBC radio he both regretted and failed to comprehend the reasoning behind it as “sport and politics, they don’t mix.”
Poland’s president and prime minister were due to attend Friday’s inaugural match along with scores of other top government officials. Sports Minister Joanna Much has said Poland is prepared to grapple with the challenges posed by hosting between the 700,000 and one million fans that are expected to flood into the country during the championships. The Kremlin however said Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev would be no shows at the other Friday game, Russia’s face-off with the Czech Republic in Wroclaw, southern Poland, denying earlier Polish media reports they would attend.
To deal with possible threats, Poland has an array of measures ranging from testicle-biting dogs to anti-hooligan squads armed with truck-mounted water cannon and high-tech sonic guns capable of inducing involuntary urination, local media have reported.
With excitement growing ahead of the opening match Friday evening in a rain-drenched Warsaw between Poland and Greece, Dutch captain Mark van Bommel said his team heard racist chants during a public training session in the southern Polish city of Krakow.
The concerns over potential racism-related violence also prompted former England captain Sol Campbell, who is black, to warn fans to “stay home, watch it on TV… don’t even risk it”. The host countries readily said the claims did not give a true picture of the situation on the ground, with Poland’s organizers even extending a personal invitation to Campbell.
Britain announced it would not be sending any ministers to group-stage games.
Dutch player Ruud Gullit said in Warsaw he hoped the racist chanting was a one-off “incident” and urged the hosts to tackle the problem. “The world is watching, you have the possibility to tackle this — take this opportunity!” he said.
Much of the spotlight ahead of the opening kick has also focused on Ukraine’s treatment of its former prime minister and opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, who has been jailed for seven years on charges the European Union says are politically motivated. Indeed, Warsaw and Kiev hoped to use the tournament as a showcase for their ex-Communist countries, but instead have seen it mired in controversy over racist fans and Ukraine’s treatment of a top opposition leader.
The issue of Tymoshenko has also strained relations between Ukraine and the European Union — European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso has said he will not attend games in Ukraine, as has EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding. Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski has called boycott threats “completely inappropriate.”
Pope Benedict XVI chipped in with hopes for a sporting atmosphere ahead of Friday’s opener, saying football was like a school that taught people about respect for one another and how to make sacrifices for the good of the rest of the team. The German-born pontiff, whose Polish predecessor John Paul II was a well-regarded goalkeeper in his youth — at times on a Jewish team — added that football was also about fraternity and love.
UEFA chief Michel Platini lashed back, sternly invoking the sporting body’s neutrality and saying: “We don’t play politics.”
But neither the controversies nor torrential downpours managed to dampen the enthusiasm of Polish fans, with thousands flooding into a mammoth fanzone in central Warsaw Friday ahead of kick off.
Euro 2012 is on for sure!
د. عبد راف
Dr. Abdul Ruff, Specialist on State Terrorism; Educationalist;Chancellor-Founder of Centor for International Affairs(CIA); Independent Analyst-columnist;Chronicler of Foreign occupations & Freedom movements(Palestine,Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc); Anti-Muslimism and anti-Islamism are more dangerous than "terrorism" Anti-Islamic forces & terrorists are using criminal elements for terrorizing the world and they in disguise are harming genuine interests of ordinary Muslims. Global media today, even in Muslim nations, are controlled by CIA & other anti-Islamic agencies. Former university Teacher;/website:abdulruff.wordpress.com/ 91-9961868309/91-9961868309
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