Donetsk 'the least racist' of host cities at Euro 2012


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The Independent Football

Donetsk, where England will play two of their group games at Euro 2012, has been described as the "least dangerous of all the host cities" by a group responsible for monitoring racism in eastern Europe.

There have been mounting concerns surrounding the possibility of black and Asian supporters being racially abused in Ukraine, with some England fans cancelling trips they have already paid for. The Ukrainian government has denied racism could be a problem, despite both the British and American governments stating otherwise on their travel advice websites.

According to Dr Rafal Pankowski, a Warsaw-based academic who runs the East Europe Monitoring Centre, part of the Football Against Racism in Europe project, there is greater concern surrounding matches in Lviv, in the west of Ukraine, where Germany, Portugal and Denmark will play matches in Group B, than those in Donetsk.

He said: "According to our monitoring data, [racism] is an issue in Poland and Ukraine and other countries in eastern Europe, such as Russia. Donetsk is perhaps the least dangerous of all the host cities for Euro 2012, but there is a clear rise of radical xenophobia in Lviv. Overall, both countries have made some progress through anti-racist campaigns and educational activities."

England play France and the host nation Ukraine in the Donbass Arena in Donetsk, either side of meeting Sweden in Kiev. Their opening game in Donetsk is on 11 June. The team will be based in Krakow in Poland and only fly in the night before matches.

England supporters had been expected to base themselves largely in Kiev because of a shortage of affordable and suitable accommodation in Donetsk, although the organisers are constructing a fans' campsite on the outskirts of the city.