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Opinion: No Saint, Just Greavsey – UEFA sending out wrong message to racists at Euro 2012

By Andrew Greaves

A ball has not yet been kicked at Euro 2012 and already the racism storm is raging.

The Dutch players say they were subjected to monkey chants as they warmed up during a public training session on Thursday, 24 hours before the tournament got underway.

As sad as it sounds, I am not a bit surprised. Staging the Euros in the Ukraine and Poland was always a racial time bomb waiting to explode.

Quite why UEFA and FIFA keep awarding major championships to countries with either questionable human rights records (Ukraine) or a very public far right element (Poland and Ukraine) is beyond me.

The BBC’s documentary last week has been slammed by the host nations but the footage was there for everyone to see.

UEFA’s initial reaction to Holland captain Marco van Bommel’s complaint was to deny that the chanting was of a racial nature. Instead, they said it was aimed at them for not designating Krakow as a host city.

They have now, unsurprisingly, back tracked and admitted that there were ‘isolated incidents of racist chanting’ during the session.

The Dutch FA have already confirmed they will not be making an official complaint to UEFA but I suspect that it would have been a waste of time even if they had.

UEFA president Michel Platini has said that players who walk off the field in protest at racial abuse will be booked which I find ludicrous.

What kind of message does that send to the racist Neanderthals in the stands?

I really hope that the Euros pass off without any incident but the signs are not good. What the players need is UEFA’s unequivocal support, not the threat of a yellow card hanging over them should they decide that the abuse is too much to put up with.

Platini is right in the fact that the problems are not confined to football or to the Ukraine and Poland.

But by allowing Poland the Ukraine to host the championships sends out completely the wrong message.

The England squad took time out to visit Auschwitz today and I think they will find it an experience they will never forget.

I was fortunate enough to be invited a couple of years ago by the Holocaust Educational Trust and it is one of the most emotional trips I have ever been on as a journalist.

It is very difficult to describe the emotions of walking around the camps and seeing where hundreds of thousands of people were sent to their death.

But it does give you a real perspective on life and I am sure that the England lads will learn a hell of a lot about themselves just by being there.

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