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SBD Global/June 13, 2012/International Football

UEFA To Investigate Alleged Racial Chanting At Euro 2012

Italy's Mario Balotelli, left, has been the subject of alleged racial abuse.
UEFA will "investigate alleged racist chanting" during two Euro 2012 matches, according to Richard Conway of the BBC. A Spanish fan group claims that some of its supporters "abused" Italy striker Mario Balotelli. Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie told reporters he "noticed" racist chants directed at him. A UEFA statement said, "Following the provision of new independent information today, regarding the two cases of alleged racist chanting in the Spain-Italy and Russia-Czech Republic matches, UEFA is now conducting further investigations." Football Against Racism in Europe CEO Piara Powar said that the statement, along with testimony from photographers at the game, "has been handed to UEFA" (BBC, 6/12). In London, Jeremy Armstrong reported that photographer Chris Brunskill was "one of the witnesses." He said supporters were "clearly audible" every time Balotelli got the ball. Brunskill also "took a photograph of two fans who he says were frequently involved in the abuse." Brunskill: "The ringleaders were two fans who were in fancy dress as Spanish tennis player Rafa Nadal. These two were at the centre of it in my view but there were hundreds in the Spanish section joining in. I would say there were around 200-300 who joined in at times." Getty Images photographer Michael Steele said that the abuse was "loud and unmistakable." Steele: "I could not see who was involved but it was obvious they were monkey chants." Greek freelance photographer Yiannis Kourtoglou said, “The monkey whoops were from the Spanish end. I could not see how many people were involved but they were clear. They were designed to put him off his game and they clearly worked – he had a terrible match" (DAILY MIRROR, 6/11). The LONDON TIMES' Mark Cue noted that Italy manager Cesare Prandelli "rejected claims" that Balotelli had been abused, calling them "absolutely untrue" (LONDON TIMES, 6/12).

BALOTELLI'S AGENT SPEAKS: Meanwhile, the London TELEGRAPH reported that Balotelli's agent, Mino Raiola, criticized UEFA President Michel Platini for "not taking a tougher stance against racism." Raiola critisized Platini for "not supporting Balotelli when he said he would walk off the pitch" if he heard racial abuse. Raiola said, "I have to say that the reaction of UEFA to what Mario said was very strange, and I would have expected a different reaction. Mario has had this problem before and in Italy we have a saying: Racism is ignorance" (TELEGRAPH, 6/12).

TALKSPORT TICKET TROUBLE: The London DAILY MAIL's Charles Sale reported that Euro 2012 radio rights holders talkSPORT "suffered an unfortunate start to the tournament" when Program Controller Matt Smith went home "after being accused of a ticket scam." Smith, who organized the station’s match coverage, is "being chased" by Ukraine-based businessman Gary Cook, who had allegedly paid €1,000 ($1,245) in advance for six tickets for the England-Sweden game in Kiev on Friday. Cook tweeted, "Where’s Matt Smith, where’s my tickets, I gave him money for them." Another message read, "Talksport radio reporter cheated me over 6 tickets for euros." Sale also wrote that tournament rights holders BBC and ITV are "facing increasing competition from not only Sky Sports News but busy broadcasting outlets" such as in-house FATV or England team sponsors Vauxhall TV. The Vauxhall TV’s "huge entourage" in Poland and Ukraine are "hoovering up opportunities" (DAILY MAIL, 6/11).

MORE INVESTIGATION: UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Croatian Football Federation after supporters set off fireworks and also invaded the pitch during a Group C match against Ireland. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body will deal with the case on June 15 (UEFA).

ADIDAS BALLS FLYING: The LONDON TIMES' Bill Edgar reported that players are "finding it hard" to keep the new adidas Tango 12 ball down when shooting at Euro 2012. A comparison between the first four matches of Euro 2012 and the recent final round of Premier League games "certainly shows the ball has been sailing over the crossbar more than expected" in Poland and Ukraine. Of the 97 shots (excluding blocked shots) in the first four Euro 2012 matches, 16 travelled over the crossbar, or one in six. Yet, only 13 of the 227 such shots on the last day of the Premier League last month went over the bar, or about one in 17 (LONDON TIMES, 6/11).
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