Ukraine says UK press racism allegations 'invented'

Reuters, Tuesday 29 May 2012

BBC documentary filmed in Poland and Ukraine includes former England star Sol Campbell warning fans of violence and racism at football matches in Euro 2012 host countries

Sol Campbell
Former England international Sol Campbell (Photo: Reuters)

Ukraine on Tuesday denied charges of racism levelled at it in the British press and said they had been dreamed up to discredit the former Soviet republic during the European Championship it is co-hosting next month with Poland.

The allegations were an "invented and mythical problem", said Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleh Voloshyn.

"You can criticise Ukrainian society for a lot of things ... but as far as racism is concerned European Union member countries are a long way ahead of Ukraine," he said in comments reported by Interfax news agency.

In a BBC Panorama programme aired on Monday former England international Sol Campbell warned England fans not to travel to Euro 2012 because of the threat of racism and violence.

Campbell, who played 73 times for England and appeared at six major tournaments, said: "Stay at home, watch it on TV. Don't even risk it ... because you could end up coming back in a coffin."

Campbell's comments follow announcements from the families of two black England players who said they would not go to the championship.

The BBC documentary filmed in Poland and Ukraine investigated violence and racism at football matches in the two host countries.

It contained footage of fans giving Nazi salutes, taunting black players with monkey noises, anti-Semitic chants and a group of Asian students being attacked at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv, one of the four Ukrainian cities which will be hosting group matches.

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