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Euro 2012 organisers hit back at BBC's pre-tournament racism claims

Updated: Saturday, 30 Jun 2012 17:26 | Comments

English fans carry a coffin painted with a St George's Cross and with the words 'You're wrong Campbell' painted on the side in Donetsk
English fans carry a coffin painted with a St George's Cross and with the words 'You're wrong Campbell' painted on the side in Donetsk

The organisers of Euro 2012 have hit back at the BBC's pre-tournament claims of fans being at danger of racist thuggery in Poland and Ukraine this summer.

When shown footage of trouble that flared up in the two countries, former England star Sol Campbell even suggested supporters were at risk of "coming back in a box".

As it has turned out, there has been little trouble throughout the entire competition.

There were problems around Poland's group game with Russia, although that match had historical issues attached to it.

Indeed, the instances of racism were created by travelling fans, with Croatia, Spain and Russia all fined for the behaviour of their supporters.

It offered Ukraine football federation president Gregory Surkis the perfect platform from which to launch his counter-offensive.

"The best reply to the BBC and Sol Campbell, who declared that there was racism in Ukraine and maybe fans wouldn't go back to England was, I think, English fans who actually took the coffin out prior to the match in Donetsk," said Surkis.

"What impresses me is that a person who has never been to Ukraine can give such commentary about the country.

"Yes, it is true, as an independent country Ukraine is only 20 years old.

"But it has made a huge contribution on infrastructure and made everything possible to be a reliable partner to UEFA for this tournament."

A group of England fans paraded a mock coffin prior to the final pool match in Ukraine to show what they thought of Campbell's comments.

With no arrests amongst their travelling support, it has been one of the most peaceful tournaments for years.

Yet Michel Platini's comments about UEFA doing everything in their power to get rid of racism do not quite ring true with the fact that fines handed out for those incidents within stadiums were lower than the €100,000 fine handed out to Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner for ambush marketing when he lowered his shorts to reveal a Paddy Power logo following his goal against Portugal.

"You should ask the UEFA disciplinary committee," said the UEFA president this lunchtime.

"Because they are an independent body and took their decision I shouldn't get involved.

"I might agree, I might not, but I'm the UEFA president.

"I can do a lot at UEFA but I'm not going to interfere in the decision and that's it."

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