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Should England be participating in Euro 2012? Yes

11th June 2012

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It is right that England haven't boycotted Euro 2012.

In Poland and Ukraine there clearly exists a racist and anti-Semitic minority among football fans. Fascist salutes are given at some grounds and ‘fellow’ fans beat supporters who are of ethnic minority. Despite Europe’s chief footballing body, UEFA, being vehemently opposed to racism or discrimination of any kind, the European Championships are still set to go ahead in Poland and Ukraine, where racism is still very much alive.

A recent BBC Panorama revealed that even during domestic games with no away support, fans violently clashed with police and in the Polish capital of Warsaw. Far right political viewpoints and football are tightly fused. UEFA deem it illegal for firms like the White Legion to display symbols such as the White Cross at football matches as it promotes fascism and racism. It’s also not uncommon for black players to be the victims of monkey chants and referees, for the most part, ignore this blatantly disgusting behaviour. In Ukraine, there are even reports of Nazi salutes and anti-Semitic chanting.

With this in mind, many fans that are of ethnic minority are being urged not to travel to Poland and Ukraine this summer to support their country. This writer fully encourages fans to follow the advice of former England international Sol Campbell: don’t travel to the Euro’s. It’s much better to be safe in the comfort of your own home or local pub, than to be sorry in a hospital bed in Eastern Europe, after being a victim of racial violence.

Having said this, there should not be a boycott of the European Championships by the England national team, or any other competing nation for that matter. The Euros are a celebration of football, a testament to the skill and passion of the best players on the continent. Football and politics should be kept separate and sport should unite nations, not drive them apart. A boycott would essentially spoil the tournament and ultimately acknowledge that racism has won, in that the minority of fans that engage in such despicable behaviour would have been successful in driving players of ethnic minority away from their country. Football, and society as a whole has come on leaps and bounds to eradicate racism, we should not let racism win over in the second decade of the 21st century. Europe should, and will, unite at Euro 2012 where we can expect to see a fantastic footballing spectacle from some of the best players on the planet. 

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