Media coverage of Euro 2012 racism 'unhelpful' says official England supporters club
The official England football supporters club today criticised media coverage of racism in Ukraine ahead of Euro 2012.
Mark Perryman, the convener of the London England Fans' group, described the stories in recent weeks as "unhelpful".
Former England centre-back Sol Campbell warned fans to avoid the tournament after BBC Panorama filmed football supporters in Ukraine giving Nazi salutes and taunting black players with monkey noises.
The families of black England players Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said they would not travel to watch the matches because of fears over racism.
But Perryman said: "We were angry about the coverage.
"If there is racist abuse of our players or fans we'll be the first to complain.
"But we refused to believe that Ukrainians are all racist. The coverage is being unhelpful."
He added: "It (racism) happens in international football and England fans get very angry about it, (but) we don't go to a game expecting it to happen and that is the case here."
Perryman said a similar situation arose ahead of the World Cup in South Africa.
"We can remember exactly the same two weeks out from the World Cup in 2010 when we were told day after day 'you're going to be raped, car-jacked and murdered'.
"I think people are extremely suspicious of the way another country is being misrepresented."
Last week about 50 England supporters met UK-based Ukraine football fans at a forum in London to discuss the issue.
Perryman said a group of England fans would travel to Euro 2012 wearing T-shirts that display a St George's Cross with a Ukrainian drinking toast that translates as 'Let Us Be' in English.
"That kind of sums up our approach to the Ukraine," he said.
"We know Ukrainians are friendly, the sun always shines in June, the beer is cheap and there's plenty to see.
"Meeting up with Ukrainian football fans to explore their country is what we're looking forward to."
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