PFA says Euro 2012 racism concerns should not be underestimated

 

Sol Campbell has the support of the Professional Footballers' Association after warning of the danger of racist abuse and violence at Euro 2012.

The former England defender said that UEFA was wrong to choose Poland and Ukraine to host this summer's tournament as it put supporters in danger.

The ex-Arsenal and Tottenham man told BBC Panorama: "Stay at home, watch it on TV. Don't even risk it... because you could end up coming back in a coffin."

And PFA deputy chief executive Bobby Barnes, who will be at the tournament in an official capacity with UEFA, said that while Campbell's choice of words may have been overly dramatic, the danger should not be underestimated.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: "I think he's being a little bit cautious but fans are obviously going to be at risk and it's a case of how the authorities actually impose the force that they are going to need to.

"As Sol said, we've seen the footage and there have been problems, not just from these countries but around eastern Europe over a number of years now.

"It probably gives a little bit of concern over the fact they were actually awarded these particular games but they have been and indeed you look at Russia 2018 coming up, where there are known, documented problems there as well.

"What you hope is that the countries will take this opportunity, with the eyes of the world on them, to try and present a much better face and make sure that the things they're being criticised for, they do their damnedest to make sure they don't happen.

"The one thing these countries are going to want to do is save the face of their particular country. If you've got the sort of chanting that we're all hoping and praying doesn't happen, or any sort of attacks on anybody, then obviously it's not going to be in their best interests.

"One would hope there will be a very strong response should anything occur."

Barnes revealed he would restrict his excursions at the tournament to matchday engagements only, in order to limit the threat to his own safety.

"I can't pretend I'm going there in a totally carefree manner," he said. "I'll be going as part of a UEFA group and I shall not be going out sightseeing.

"The really sad thing is I've been to most of the major championships, be it the European Championship or the World Cup, and the whole benefit and the joy of going to these things is the fact that you're walking around and getting the atmosphere and mixing with fans from other countries.

"It's just going to be really sad if a section of society are going to be denied that opportunity because of their colour and I think that needs to be looked at when we look at future venues."

PA

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