Today I am pleased to introduce an article from two guest bloggers who will discuss the issues relating to racism and violence in Poland and Ukraine ahead of Euro 2012. This post comes only a few hours after it was revealed that the Dutch team have been subject to racial abuse while they were training in Krakow and questions whether or not Poland and Ukraine should have been allowed to compete in, let alone host, the European Championships.
This topic is very interesting for me as an Arsenal fan because UEFA’s decision has huge implications for many of our players and others in the Premier League. The fact that the parents of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott refuse to travel to the games because they fear being the target of racial slurs provides one of the best examples.
Speaking to the BBC’s Panorama last week, Sol Campbell’s exact words on the tournament were ”stay home, watch it on TV… don’t even risk it.” Panorama’s footage includes home fans doing Nazi salutes, black players being teased with monkey chants, huge anti-Semitism and the assault on a group of Asian students. I am sure that I was not the only person who was disgusted by this sort of behaviour.
Max Sobell and Adam Schwarz are Politics Undergraduates from the University of Nottingham who run Your Politics, My Politics. This is a blog that gives interesting views on a broad range of international political events shaping the world today. Normally I wouldn’t agree to share a blog post on politics, but this article is of particular interest to anybody who will be watching the Euro’s.
Does Football Really Lead to Devleopment?
“One only has to look at the recent news stories to realise the dark cloud looming above the European Championships taking place in Ukraine and Poland. First, Panorama exposed the reprehensible, racist behaviour of a sizeable minority of Polish and Ukrainian fans. Since then, we have seen:
1) Families of black footballers citing they would not be attending the Championships
2) The Foreign Office warning England fans who were Asian, Black or Jewish to be cautious if attending the Championships
3) The UK government has boycotted the Championships, refusing to send officials due to the Ukrainian government’s treatment of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko
4) The allegations that Black Dutch players were subject to monkey chants at an open training session
How can all of this have suddenly emerged only a month before the Championships? Any work that has been done with the “Kick Racism Out of Football” campaign has been completely negated by UEFA’s poor and dangerous judgment in awarding the Championships to two countries that still demonstrate prehistoric and barbaric views. No team whose fans feel it is acceptable to “Sieg Heil” or perform monkey chants should be allowed to compete, let alone host, these Championships. Unfortunately, recent events suggest that these Championships will be blighted by racism and will be remembered for it.
In awarding the Championships to Ukraine and Poland, there were noble intentions- help to improve the economic and political situation of these post-Soviet countries still in the adolescent phase of “democracy”. Ultimately, this is a case of trying to run when they should be walking and the decision to award the Championships was an extremely myopic one on UEFA’s part. UEFA, as well as FIFA, under the Platini-Blatter regime have sought an idealistic and frankly naive belief that football can bring development to the most underdeveloped, be it economically or politically. Though there are merits to this, it it without doubt that the negatives outweigh the positives (see case studies below).
Indeed, a whole host of ex-footballers, celebrities and politicians have recently come out against the awarding of the Championships, but it seems too little too late. No country should ever be rewarded with the lucrative nature of hosting a major sporting event, if their fans continue to consistently act in such a deplorable manner.
South Africa, World Cup 2010: A landmark decision, the first African team to host a World Cup,and it truly was a unifying experience for many in South Africa. But how can this possibly be justified when multi-million pound stadia were built in the foreground of the most poverty stricken townships? Economically, the World Cup only lined the pockets of FIFA and the South African government, with local vendors unable to sell to tourists within a 1.5km radius of stadia due to the exorbitant fee (60,000R-almost $8000) charged. Moreover, South Africans were evicted from townships, particularly in Durban, to “improve the aesthetics” of the area and constructions costs greatly outweighed the revenue from tourism.
Russia and Qatar, World Cups 2018 and 2022: Two countries with less than stellar human rights records, as well as huge income inequality. The latter being the more contentious of the two, it will be interesting to see how alcohol-loving football fans, say from either Germany and England, will clash with locals, where Sharia law outlaws drinking in public, as well as homosexuality being illegal in Qatar”