Britain’s Foreign Office has advised “those of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent and individuals from religious minorities” to “take extra care” if they travel to Ukraine to follow the British national team in the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.
Family members of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, both of whom play for the British squad, have decided against traveling to Ukraine.
“This is a country where football fans use the word Jew as an insult. In a match at Krakow, both sets of Ultras are caged like animals in their terraces behind metal fencing,” writes Chris Rodgers of the Daily Mail about Euro 2012 co-host Poland. “The Ultras supporting the team of Wisla are taunting their local rivals calling them Jewish ‘******’ Many wear T-shirts with anti-Semitic slogans.”
Ukraine’s President Viktor Yanukovych has downplayed the security concerns of many Europeans planning to travel there, including a warning by Sol Campbell, the former English soccer captain, to “stay at home, watch it on TV. Don’t even risk it… because you could end up coming back in a coffin.”
“We have a list of people who behaved aggressively at football matches. Their numbers are tiny, they are known to us and preventive measures will be taken,” Yanukovych said.
Euro 2012 will begin on June 8th, is hosted by Ukraine and Poland, and will end on July 1st.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Ukraine as the country where football fans use the word Jew as an insult instead of Poland.