Responding to racism during EURO 2012

Here we collate a number of articles which catalogue various incidents of racism and responses during EURO2012FAR-RIGHT POLITICIAN SPARKS RACE ROW AFTER POSTING CONTROVERSIAL BALOTELLI IMAGEMario Balotelli is at the centre of another fierce football row though this time it is none of the Italian striker’s making.21/6/2012- Having hit one of the best goals of Euro 2012 in Italy’s 2-1 victory over Ireland on Monday night, taking his country to this weekend’s quarter-final against England, you would imagine that the entire nation of Italy would be behind the fiery forward. Apparently not. Paolo Ciani of the right wing Future and Liberty party has sparked a race row in Italy after posting the above image to his Facebook page, which shows a Photoshopped Balotelli bending down to collect cabbages in a field. If you’re confused by the image, it depicts the player as an immigrant worker. Balotelli’s parents Thomas and Rose were both raised in Ghana. Ciana went further by adding to the post: “He comes commits a foul worthy of a red card, scores then unleashes a verbal onslaught against the bench forcing them to shut him up. This clown should go and work in the fields.”The row comes just days after the Croatian FA were fined €80,000 by UEFA for racist chanting from their fans against Balotelli, while UEFA is also investigating whether the fans threw bananas onto the pitch during the 1-1 group stage draw. Ciani, however, has been quick to defend his image as non-racist, even adding that he has a friend who is “blacker” than Balotelli. Sigh… “What I was doing was making a footballing comment, I was highlighting how Balotelli had committed a bad foul which could have got him sent off,” insisted Ciani. “Then his reaction after scoring was so over the top one of his team mates had to put his hand over his mouth. I am friends with [Ghanaian] footballer Kwadwo Asamoah who is blacker than Balotelli but he has never been whistled and jeered at because before being a footballer he is a man.”Russia fined by UEFA23/6/2012- Russia were hit by yet another UEFA fine today following more extremist behaviour by their fans at the European Championship. The Football Union of Russia (RFS) were fined €35,000 for the conduct of their supporters during what proved to be the country’s final match at the tournament against Greece last Saturday.All Russia’s games in Poland and Ukraine were marred by the displaying of “illicit banners” and “the setting off and throwing of fireworks by spectators” earning them a total fine of just under €186,500. They were also handed a suspended six-point deduction from their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign after a large group of their fans viciously attacked a handful of stewards after their opening Group A game against the Czech Republic. The RFS appealed against that and the €120,000 fine imposed upon them for that incident and illicit banner and fireworks offences. That was after they were also fined €30,000 following similar problems during their second group match against Poland.UEFA had also been separately investigating allegations monkey chants were directed by Russian fans towards Czech defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, one of several racism claims to have marred Euro 2012. Today’s sanctions heaped further embarrassment on Russia, who are under increasing pressure to deal with fan problems having been named hosts for the 2018 World Cup. Meanwhile, disciplinary proceedings were opened against the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) today after a fan allegedly attempted a pitch invasion during their quarter-final win over the Czech Republic on Thursday. UEFA’s Control and Disciplinary Body will deal with the case on Monday.Poland: Radio hosts ‘xenophobic’ towards Ukrainians Hosts of a popular radio show demonstrated “xenophobia” and “hate speech” in a recent reference to Ukrainians, according to the the Polish journalists’ ethics council.25/6/2012- The comments, which the presenters say were in keeping with the tone of their “satirical” show, had prompted a complaint from Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry. Kuba Wojewodzki and Michal Figurski, hosts of the show on commercial station Radio Eska, made the controversial remarks in the wake of Ukraine’s 2-1 victory against Sweden on 11 June in the Euro 2012 tournament. In reference to the match, Wojewodzki quipped to his co-host that after the game, he “behaved like a true Pole and chucked out his Ukrainian.” Figurski replied that this was “a good idea,” and that “out of spite, I won’t pay her today,” Wojewodzki went on to say that if his [Ukrainian] had been “a bit prettier he would have raped her anyway.” Following the conclusion of the Media Ethics Council (REM) of the Association of Polish Journalists, the matter will now be taken up by Poland’s National Broadcasting Council (KRRiT).RacismAs alluded to in the Media Ethics Council’s statement, this is not the first time that the presenters have been accused of xenophobia and racism. In October 2011, Radio Eska was fined 50,000 zloty (11,700 euro) in connection with remarks made during an edition of the presenters’ show from earlier that year. “Let’s call the black man,” it was announced in the show, prior to interviewing a spokesman for Poland’s Main Road Transport Inspectorate who was half-Indian. The presenters added that that particular edition of the show was sponsored by the Ku Klux Klan. A further controversial incident occurred when Wojewodzki was co-hosting an episode of the Polish edition of the X-Factor talent-finding show, during which the presenter made so-called jokes about cannibalism to a contestant of Nigerian background. Both Wojewodzki and Figurski have apologised for the current Ukrainian remarks, but defended their behaviour as being satirical.UEFA fines German FA 25,000 euros over supporters’ neo-Nazi bannerDie Mannschaft fans were also found deemed guilty of letting off fireworks and singing offensive songs during the Group B encounter in Lviv25/6/2012- UEFA has fined the German Football Association (DFB) 25,000 euros over the behavior of a section of their supporters during the national team’s Euro 2012 clash with Denmark. Die Mannschaft fans were accused of displaying a neo-Nazi banner during the Group B game in Lviv, as well as singing offensive songs and letting off fireworks. The European game’s governing body has now reprimanded the DFB, having found the country’s fans guilty of “improper conduct”. “The German Football Association (DFB) has been fined €25,000 by the UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body,” a statement released on Monday read. “The charges relate to the improper conduct of their supporters at the UEFA EURO 2012 Group B match against Denmark in Lviv on Sunday 17 June. “An appeal can be lodged against this decision within 24 hours of the dispatch of the reasoned decision.” Germany won the game 2-1, with Lars Bender popping up with the winner with 10 minutes remaining after Michael Krohn-Dehli had earlier cancelled out Lukas Podolski’s opener. Russia and Croatia have previously been fined by UEFA over the actions of their supporters in Poland and Ukraine.© Goal EURO 2012 semi-finals dedicated to RESPECTNational teams unite against racism26/6/2012- The UEFA EURO 2012 semi-final matches in Donetsk and Warsaw will see the captains of the national teams of Spain, Portugal, Germany and Italy reaffirm their stance against racism and encourage intercultural dialogue between fans. The semi-final matches which take place on 27 and 28 June in the Donbass Arena and the National Stadium Warsaw respectively will be the culmination of UEFA’s RESPECT campaign for UEFA EURO 2012. Football supporters will also become an integral part of the RESPECT campaign, by joining the fan choreographies organised in the stands at both stadiums and which will see the word RESPECT and the national team flags appear just minutes before kick-off.The RESPECT Diversity project is implemented by UEFA’s long-time partner the FARE network and its local counterpart in Poland/Ukraine, Never Again. The initiative, launched at the start of the tournament, has seen two FARE international monitors present at every match and whose job is to identify and report any racist behaviour or illicit banners. Thanks to a relationship with UEFA security officials they are also able to take action during games should that be necessary. Hundreds of inclusivity zones have also been created at this tournament. These are public buildings and spaces that are designated as being open and accessible to all. Over 80,000 police officers and stewards in Poland and Ukraine have received anti-discrimination training to help them identify and prevent discriminatory chants, symbols and behaviour.Rafal Pankowski of the Never Again Association, and co-ordinator of the FARE programme at EURO 2012 said: “As EURO 2012, the biggest sporting event ever held in Eastern and Central Europe, reaches its latter stages we are pleased that the message of anti-discrimination will be centre stage through the Respect Diversity activities. We hope that the whole of Europe can join us in sharing our vision of a society that is free from prejudice and enriched by all of our diversities.” “We also believe that one of the legacies from hosting the EURO here will be a greater understanding of the gravity of intolerance and a renewed commitment, in words and action, to build inclusive progressive societies.”© UEFA 2012 captains join forces to promote respect for diversity29/6/2012- The captains of the teams taking part in the 2012 European Championship semi-finals this week have helped to battle racism by speaking out before their respective games. Spanish captain Iker Casillas and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo both spoke out against racism before their semi-final, which the Spanish won on penalties. Germany’s Philip Lahm and Italy’s Gianluigi Buffon did the same ahead of their clash, which Italy won 2-1. In addition to that, supporters at both stadiums produced choreographed displays ahead of kick off with the word ‘Respect’ to underline the importance of the fight against racism. Euro 2012, taking place in Ukraine and Poland, has been dogged by a series of incidents. Although many feared that home supporters would cause problems of a racist nature, ironically others have done so instead. Spain themselves have been fined for alleged racist behaviour and chanting by fans, as were Russia. Croatia have also been given a financial sanction for displaying ‘racist banners’ when they played Spain in the group stage of the competition.The gestures at the semi-finals are part of the Respect Diversity – Football Unites campaign, conducted by Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE). This network is coordinated by the Polish based Never Again Association which seeks to promote understanding and educate people, especially youngsters, against racial prejudices. The initiative was launched at the start of the tournament, and two FARE international observers have been present at every match, with 2,500 public areas declared as Inclusivity Zones. As part of the efforts to ensure a trouble free competition, 80,000 police officers and stewards received anti-discrimination training to identify and tackle abuse in the stands. “As Euro 2012, the biggest sporting event ever held in Eastern and Central Europe, reaches its latter stages we are pleased that the message of anti-discrimination will be centre stage through the Respect Diversity activities,” said Rafal Pankowski, the coordinator of the programme. “We hope that the whole of Europe can join us in sharing our vision of a society that is free from prejudice and enriched by all of our diversities. “We also believe that one of the legacies from hosting the Euro here will be a greater understanding of the gravity of intolerance and a renewed commitment, in words and action, to build inclusive progressive societies.”UEFA is supporting the initiative with a jersey exchange to promote the idea of diversity among supporters, enlisting the help of some of the game’s biggest names, such as former Netherlands star Clarence Seedorf, legendary Denmark goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and one of the game’s most respected ex-referees, Italy’s Pierluigi Collina, to help support the anti-racism campaign.© Inside World Football 2012 a boost for anti-racism, campaigner says27/6/2012- Euro 2012 has boosted the battle against racism in Eastern European football, thanks in part to a strong stand on high-profile incidents, defender-turned-campaigner Paul Elliott said on Wednesday. Elliott, who became Chelsea’s first black captain in 1991, has won wide recognition for his anti-racism work and was recently honoured by Queen Elizabeth II. Since the Iron Curtain fell two decades ago, far-right groups have fed on and stoked social and ethnic tensions across the ex-communist bloc. They have found fertile ground among some fans who worship England’s once-notorious hooligan “firms”. “The extreme right uses football to launch their recruitment drives,” underlined Elliott. But he noted that in the run-up to the European championship, the foreign media’s stark depiction of the problem in host nations Poland and Ukraine had been misplaced. “What was correct was there have been issues in Poland and Ukraine. But there are issues in the whole of Europe,” he told AFP in an interview in the Polish capital Warsaw, which on Thursday hosts Germany’s semi-final with Italy. “You can go to parts of London, in the wrong place at the wrong time, and be susceptible to the same violence. That’s a fact,” said Elliott, who hails from the British capital and has also played for Scottish giants Celtic and Italy’s Pisa.”For me, it was important for Poland and Ukraine to be given the Euros, for an opportunity to use the power of football to address and challenge these areas. And I think it’s been hugely successful,” he added. Elliott works closely with Polish anti-racism campaigners and has visited the region frequently. Despite concerns about racist violence by Polish and Ukrainian hooligans, it has been fans of other teams who have grabbed the headlines during the tournament. One of the highest-profile cases involved racist taunts directed by Croatia fans at black Italy striker Mario Balotelli – which earned the Croatian Football Federation an 80,000-euro ($100,000, 64,000-pound) fine from UEFA. In its wake, Croatia coach Slaven Bilic slammed racist fans, saying he did not want his team being supported by such individuals and that they should be kept out of football. Elliott hailed the fact that former West Ham and Everton defender Bilic had spoken out, saying it was up to football insiders to make a stand. “I have one word to describe that: Leadership. I think that Bilic is not only a decent man, but having plied his trade in England, understands integration and the power of what football can do,” Elliott said. “What Bilic said, every coach and manager must say if their supporters behave inappropriately like that. Saying ‘I don’t want those kind of people supporting our country’ is a powerful, serious message,” he added.There have been suggestions that once outside attention shifts elsewhere after the Euro 2012 final in the Ukrainian capital Kiev on Sunday, anti-racism campaigners in the region will find themselves back at square one. “The critical moment comes after the Euros. We all know that the issue of hooliganism and racism is a genuine issue in both Poland and Ukraine,” said Rafal Pankowski of Warsaw-based group Never Again, which in 1996 launched Poland’s first football-focused campaign. Part of the Football Against Racism in Europe network, it has run a major campaign ahead of and during Euro 2012, backed by UEFA. “We must not think that change will continue automatically if we don’t sustain it,” Pankowski told AFP.© AFP

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