Official jerseys for the upcoming Euro 2012 have been handed a red card by a consumer group even before the tournament kicks off for being tainted with lead, nickel and other toxic substances.
The European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, called a "chemical foul play" this week after testing nine official tournament shirts.
Tests were conducted by BEUC members in Italy, Portugal and Spain on jerseys from Poland, Spain, Germany, Russia, Ukraine, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Portugal.
"All were found to have worrying levels of chemical content," it said in a statement.
One of its members played down the warning, however. A spokesman for Belgian consumer group Test Achat, Jean-Philippe Ducart said "there's no need to dramatise."
Referring to the quantities found, he told AFP that "there's nothing illegal, even though special attention is needed for vulnerable groups such as children."
BEUC said lead, a heavy metal, was found in six of nine tested shirts -- those of Spain, Germany, Ukraine, Russia, France and Italy.
Players from Portugal and the Netherlands will play in shirts containing nickel, it said.
Jerseys from host nation Poland "should be banned outright from shops" for containing a compound to prevent the smell of sweat -- organotin -- that can be toxic to the nervous system.
Nonylphenol, which can be bad for the endocrine system and is banned from waste-water because it can harm the environment, was found in shirts from Spain and Italy.
With fans paying up to 90 euros for some jerseys "the least they should expect is to have a quality and safe product," said BEUC director Monique Goyens.
"It is inexplicable that heavy metals are used in mass consumer products," she said.
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