Threatened racism kept at bay during Euro 2012
Given the frenzy of pre-tournament worries about racism and violence in Ukraine, the country is feeling rather pleased with itself at the fact that, so far, the tournament has gone off almost without incident.
Hooliganism and isolated racist episodes have been confined to Poland, while football fans in Ukraine have been treated to a warm, if sometimes overpriced, welcome. England fans based in Kiev and Donetsk have reported no real tension or threat from the home fans and citizens.
That was reinforced yesterday by reports that the family of England winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are planning to fly to Kiev for tomorrow's clash between England and Italy. Previously, the footballer's family had said they were staying at home, in the wake of dramatic footage aired by the BBC's Panorama of racist attacks in Poland and Ukraine. The programme also featured former England centre back Sol Campbell warning black and Asian fans that if they travelled to the tournament they could end up "coming home in a coffin".
Black and Asian residents of Kiev and Kharkiv have confirmed that both casual and violent racism are prevalent in Ukraine, but during the tournament the country has been on its best behaviour.
In Poland, there were battles between supporters of Russia and Poland around the two countries' group-stage clash, but otherwise there has been almost no violence. Uefa president Michel Platini said this week that the two host countries should be "proud", and that despite the fact that both host nations failed to progress to the knockout stages they had both "already won the European Championship".
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