Anti-racism group to deploy monitors at Euro 2012

AFP, Wednesday 14 Mar 2012

Football Against Racism in Europe wants two monitors at each game to avoid racist chanting

Euro 2012
Euro 2012

A pan-European racism watchdog said on Wednesday that it was recruiting monitors for Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, amid concerns about links between the far right and football hooligans.

Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) said it wanted to deploy two monitors at each game during the upcoming European championships, which kick off in Poland in June and end in Ukraine on 1 July.

"Monitoring racist and discriminatory chanting and symbols has been a key element of the FARE programme over a number of tournaments from Euro 2004 in Portugal, the World Cup in Germany in 2006 and Euro 2008 Austria and Switzerland," FARE said.

"In Poland and Ukraine the need for monitoring will arguably be even more important because of the prevalence of far-right banners and potential for racist, homophobic and other forms of discriminatory abuse and interactions," it added.

FARE will work with European football's governing body UEFA and the Warsaw-based anti-racist movement Never Again, which in 1996 launched Poland's first football-focused campaign.

"A protocol will be developed and put in place for the reporting of incidents with UEFA, with an expectation that if enough evidence is available in each case sanctions will result," FARE said.

In the run-up to Euro 2012, Never Again has provided anti-racism training for almost 7,000 stadium stewards who will work in the domestic leagues after the tournament.

It is the first edition of the 16-nation, quadrennial football showcase to take place behind the former Iron Curtain.

Far-right banners or racist chanting against black players—in a region whose non-white minority community is tiny—are seen from the top flight down to local leagues.

Nazi imagery and anti-Semitic slogans are particularly shocking given Eastern Europe's World War II history, when millions perished at the hands of the occupying Germans, including the overwhelming majority of the region's Jews.

While fan organisations insist that extremists do not represent the majority, the issue was spotlighted last 11 November when hooligans and far-right radicals joined forces in Warsaw to battle police on Poland's independence day.

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