June 8, 2012
Fans' racism a 'real disgrace'
By Morris Dalla Costa, QMI Agency
WARSAW - It didn’t take long for one of Euro 2012 organizers greatest fears to materialize.
Players from the Netherlands said they were taunted by racial epithets during and open training session in Krakow, Poland Thursday, one day before the tournament begins.
A number of fans began doing monkey chants at the black players as the Dutch players warmed up by doing laps around the field, reports indicated. Dutch captain Mark van Bommel then lead his team to the other side of the pitch and the team did not complete any more warm-up laps.
The Dutch captain said it was a “real disgrace.” He indicated that if it happened during a game he would ask the referee to “take us off the field.”
There were attempts to keep the issue quiet but van Bommel went public with the incident.
The Union of European Football Associations attempted to explain the situation away by claiming the protests were about no games being held in Krakow where several teams are situated including the Netherlands and England.
The biggest fear was that racist incidents would occur in Ukraine.
Michel Platini, UEFA president, said before the tournament that any player who walked off the pitch on his own in protest to racist acts during a game would be booked. That created a firestorm of controversy although Platini did say that referees had the right to stop games if they became aware of racist conduct.
The Dutch were taunted the day after the team had visited Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp. The training session was held in the stadium used by Wisla Krakow where about 500 supporters of the team were at the pitch. The practice was opened as a goodwill gesture to the city.