Connect to share and comment

A global sports blog.

Soccer fans safe in Poland despite racism fears, government says

Former England player Sol Campbell tells fans to stay home, watch on TV.
Euro 2012 racismEnlarge
Children play near a bridge column with Nazi graffiti in Lviv, Ukraine, on May 30, 2012. Euro 2012 organizers refute claims that Poland and Ukraine were unsafe for traveling soccer fans. (AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

Soccer fans visiting Poland and Ukraine for next month’s Euro 2012 championships shouldn’t worry about racism or threats of violence, government officials said today.

A Polish government spokesman said recent comments by former English soccer player Sol Campbell are unwarranted.

Campbell told fans – through a BBC documentary – to stay home and watch the tournament on TV because of racism fears.

“The Polish government is surprised that the report contains the opinion of one person only and failed to include the views of international security experts,” Malgorzata Wozniak told The Daily Mail.

Campbell told BBC it was a mistake to allow Poland and Ukraine to co-host Europe’s most prestigious soccer tournament.

He was responding to video of Nazi salutes at games, racist taunts toward black players and an attack on Asian students.

“Stay at home, watch it on TV,” Campbell said, according to BBC. “Don’t even risk it … because you could end up coming back in a coffin.”

More from GlobalPost: Poland pressuring Euro 2012 co-host Ukraine about Tymoshenko

Campbell isn’t the only player concerned.

Mario Balotelli – an Italian player no stranger to controversy – said he would “kill” anyone who taunted him.

“I will not accept racism at all,” he told The Guardian. “It’s unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them.”

More from GlobalPost: Soccer diplomacy in Ukraine

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/world-at-play/soccer-fans-safe-poland-despite-racism-fears-government-sa