By the time you will be reading this article, this year’s European Championships would have been decided, but one question that has been repeatedly raised since the time Ukraine and Poland were selected to host the tournament, would still remain partially answered, or not at all. The question of the psychological security of the players participating in the footballing extravaganza and their respective fans… the threat of racism overshadowing the thrill of the sport.
Fears of racism in Euro 2012 came to the fore when the Dutch players were welcomed to ‘monkey’ chants in Ukraine… when the temperamental Mario Balotelli’s goal celebrations were received with similar chants from the Croatian crowd… when the Russian crowd, celebrating their national day, were attacked by Polish thugs and when the UEFA slapped a fine of £80,000 on Nicholas Bendtner for showing his underwear and a mere £25,000 on the Croatian Football Association for racism charges.
After the last season of EPL witnessed several incidents of racism, doubts were bound to be raised – on fans’ conduct and more importantly, on UEFA’s monitoring policies. And football’s parenting body in Europe has failed in this department to some extent, yet again.
Countering racism in the sport goes beyond captains of teams wearing RESPECT bands on their sleeves. Whenever any player’s skin colour becomes a talking point, it not only scars the character of the sport but also puts up a bad role model for the youth and children.
The Polish and Ukranian fans were upset when factions of them were charged with improper conduct and so was the UEFA. But racism, even of minimal nature, becomes such a vicious issue because even a petty fight can lead to a riot, can kill the sport and most importantly, can even kill people.