“Stay home, watch it on TV… don’t even risk it”. That was Sol Campbell’s advice to England supporters on BBC’s Panorama programme before the tournament began. It looks to be sound advice as well after only five days of the tournament have brought the occasions of violence into double figures. Before the football began, the Dutch squad were subjected to ‘monkey chants’ at an open training session. Both Mario Balotelli and Gebre Selassie have been targetted during matches, by Spanish and Russian fans respectively.
Uefa have typically attempted to swerve all responsibility: “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”. Placing the referee in charge of such big decisions with huge implications is, quite frankly, a joke.
There is an argument that hosting the tournament in countries with problems such as this will bring the issue into the public eye, hoping that the ignorant views held will be given an education. However, I share Campbell’s view that problems should be addressed before allowing big tournaments to be held in places where trouble like this occurs.
Some of the pictures seen on news channels and the internet have been horrific, the violent attack on stewards after Russia’s opening match was particularly disgraceful. Uefa’s decision to have Russia playing in Poland seems strange to say the least.
Hopefully Uefa and the Polish & Ukrainian authorities can take control of the situation before it gets totally out of hand.