WARSAW: The racism row rumbled on at Euro 2012 when Russia fans were accused of directing monkey chants at Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie during his country’s 4-1 defeat on Friday. In a further incident four stewards were slightly hurt after a post-match skirmish with Russian fans
A group named FARE – for Football Against Racism in Europe – said that one of its members at the Group A game in Wroclaw heard “fleeting” racist abuse of Gebre Selassie. FARE chief executive Piara Powar said: “Our observer reported descriptions of that nature. It was directed at the Czech Republic’s only black player.”
The violence which erupted at the Russia-Czech Republic game when a handful of stewards were attacked by large group of fans in a walkway inside the 40,000-capacity ground. Footage of the incident has emerged online . Four of the stewards needed hospital treatment.
Italy forward Mario Balotelli has threatened to leave the pitch if abused – to which UEFA president Michel, Platini responded with a warning that players who walked off without permission from the referee would incur a yellow card. Gebre Selassie said this week that he would not walk off, adding: “I’m not ready to give up. I definitely won’t leave. I’ll stay until they throw stones at me.” His father is Ethiopian.
In midweek some of Holland’s black players were subjected to monkey chants in Poland during a training session in Krakow.
UEFA said: “UEFA is aware that at yesterday’s Group A match in Wroclaw between Russia and the Czech Republic there was a brief and isolated incident involving a small group of around 30 fans who attacked a handful of stewards. The situation was quickly and efficiently brought under control. The local police are aware of the incident and investigating.
“The cause of the incident is not currently known but we are studying the security reports and available images. UEFA remains entirely committed to the safety and security of all fans and spectators at all matches of Euro 2012.”
Police spokesman Mariusz Sokolowski said: “The attackers were from the group of Russian language fans. We are trying to identify them. Police have the security footage from the stadium. We are looking into it.”
Concerns of racism at Euro 2012 were fueled last month by a BBC Panorama TV programme, entitled “Stadiums of Hate,” claiming to show discrimination and violence at recent club matches in Poland and Ukraine. It was broadcast in Poland on the eve of the tournament..
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