Racist Monkey Chants Mar Dutch Team’s Krakow UEFA Training Session
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) has confirmed that there were “isolated incidents of racist chanting” targeting Dutch footballers on Wednesday during a Krakow, Poland open training session for the Euro 2012 tournament.
BBC Sport reports that Netherlands captain Mark van Bommel said monkey chants were directed at Dutch players.
In a statement, UEFA said that it would take action if further racist behavior is reported.
“UEFA has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to discriminatory behavior and has given the power to referees to stop matches in case of any repeated racist behavior,” the statement said.
“Should such behavior happen at further training sessions, UEFA would evaluate the operational measures to be taken to protect players.”
Around 20,000 fans showed up to watch the training session at Krakow’s Stadion Miejski on Wednesday. Dutch journalist Marcel van der Kraan witnessed the racist abuse.
“As the Dutch players did their warm-up, during the first lap of the pitch they could hear monkey noises from one end of the crowd,” he told BBC Radio 5. “When the players heard this they said they would do another lap and if they heard monkey noises again they would stop.”
“The Dutch coach moved all the cones and started training on the pitch as far away from these people as possible,” he said, adding that “it was considerably more than two or three people.”
The Dutch team had just returned from a trip to the nearby former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.
“It is a real disgrace, especially after getting back from Auschwitz, that you are confronted with this,” van Bommel, the Dutch captain, told BBC Sport.
“We will take it up with UEFA and if it happens at a match we will talk to the referee and ask him to take us off the field.”
England manager Roy Hodgson said he believes UEFA will do all it can to tackle racism at the Euro 2012 tournament, which is being hosted jointly by Poland and Ukraine.
“I’m sure UEFA and all those involved in Euro 2012 are doing their best to combat that [racism],” he told BBC Sport.
“There’s no doubt where we stand on this issue but we are all aware we were entering countries, particularly Ukraine, where a risk of racism exists and we have to deal with it,” he added.
Former England captain Sol Campbell, who is black, raised awareness– and eyebrows– last month when he warned British fans to avoid traveling to the tournament, which he said should not have been awarded to Ukraine.
Reacting to a recent BBC Panorama program showing Polish and Ukrainian soccer fans giving Nazi salutes, taunting black players with monkey chants, viciously assaulting on a group of Asian students and engaging in vile anti-Semitism, Campell told the BBC:
“I think that they [UEFA] were wrong, because what they should say is that ‘if you want this tournament, you sort your problems out. Until we see a massive improvement… you do not deserve these prestigious tournaments in your country.'”
Campell had this advice for England supporters thinking of making the trip east:
“Stay at home, watch it on TV. Don’t even risk it… because you could end up coming back in a coffin.”
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