International monitors will be deployed at every match in Poland and Ukraine throughout Euro 2012 to report any incidents of racism, discrimination or far-right banners being displayed by supporters.
There will be two monitors at each game coordinated by Fare, the European anti-racism in football umbrella organisation, which says Uefa is committed to taking disciplinary action if necessary. The monitors can draw incidents to the immediate attention of stewards – some 80,000 police and stewards have undergone discrimination awareness training – within grounds, as well as reporting to Uefa officials.
Last month Uefa reminded referees that they have the power to stop games if players are being racially abused. Inside grounds there will also be anti-discrimination messages displayed prominently while Fare has set up a telephone hotline for supporters to report any racist incidents.
"We have well-documented issues with discrimination in football but I am also confident of the strong message that will be sent out and the contingencies we have to deal with problems," said Rafal Pankowski of Never Again, a Warsaw-based anti-racist watchdog that is overseeing the monitoring process.
The build-up to the tournament in Poland and Ukraine has been overshadowed by fears that black and Asian supporters will be abused at matches. Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's families have said they will not travel to the tournament, while this week's Panorama on the BBC showed disturbing footage of racist violence and anti-Semitism in both host nations.
Donald Tusk, Poland's Prime Minister, yesterday defended his country's record. "As yet, no European country has been able to fully eradicate the problem of racism," he said. "We in Poland are also combating this phenomenon, which is neither greater nor smaller than in other European Union countries."
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