UEFA Ask Authorities To Step Up Training Grounds Vigilance
UEFA has asked the mayors of the Polish and Ukrainian cities where open training sessions for Euro 2012 are held to ask that all measures -- including an increased police presence -- be implemented to prevent any display of discriminatory or racist behavior at the sessions. UEFA has also asked that the authorities ensure that anyone found to be engaging in racist behavior be ejected from the stadium and its vicinity, and be subject to criminal proceedings (UEFA).
BATTLE OF WARSAW: The DAILY MAIL wrote that "as Poland prepares for their next Euro 2012 game, you may be forgiven in thinking Warsaw is preparing for battle with Russia." Polish papers went heavy on analogies from Poland's 1920 battle against the Bolshevik Army, "fueling simmering nationalist sentiments" on the eve of the Group A match against Russia. The Super Express tabloid carried a front page mocked-up picture of Poland coach Franciszek Smuda "charging on horseback, saber in hand, in a 1920 Polish army uniform" under the headline "Faith, Hope, Smuda," -- a play on an old army motto: "Faith, Home, Motherland." The Polish edition of Newsweek had a front-page picture of Smuda saluting, in the uniform of Jozef Pilsudski -- who commanded Polish troops in the 1920 battle, under the headline: "Poland-Russia: The battle of Warsaw 2012." The highly-charged match falls on Russia Day, a national holiday, and Russian fans "are planning to march from downtown to the stadium, a move seen as provocative by many Poles" (DAILY MAIL, 6/11).
RACIST CLAIMS 'STUPID': Meanwhile, the AFP reported Russia Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has called allegations that fans hurled racial abuse at the Czech Republic's only black player "stupid." Mutko said that fans were only booing those who did not join their Mexican wave. Mutko told the state-run RIA Novosti news agency, "This is stupid and unfair. I was at that match and saw everything. Our fans started a wave, but the Czech sector did not stand up. So they started criticising the Czechs by making the corresponding noises" (AFP, 6/11).
FEWER ARRESTS: REUTERS reported that Polish police have made just 72 arrests since the start of Euro 2012, "fewer than on an average holiday weekend in the host country." There were violent incidents in the cities of Wroclaw and Poznan over the weekend, "mainly involving Croatian and Russian fans." But the ministry pointed to the "relative calm" at fan party zones in its major cities -- the biggest ever at a European Championship -- as evidence "that the tournament is going off smoothly" (REUTERS, 6/11).
SO FAR, SO GOOD: Polish Football Federation President Grzegorz Lato, and Polish Tournament Dir Adam Olkowicz were upbeat in their early assessment of the tournament. Lato said, "I think when it comes to the infrastructure and organisation, the [early] evaluation is very positive." Olkowica: "This is the biggest event, not only in terms of football in Poland, but also the biggest social event that has ever been organised in our country. We would like to continue the tournament without any impediments or problems. After this tournament, I would like the [image] of Poland and Ukraine to have confirmed our openness and our smile with great weather and wonder football emotions" (UEFA).