Dutch players racially abused in Poland

Euro 2012 was mired in controversy even before the first match when Dutch players were subjected to racist abuse at their training pitch in Krakow. The Dutch were disgusted at the treatment of black players like Gregory van der Wiel and Nigel De Jong.

The Dutch reacted by moving their training to the far side of the ground, but captain Mark van Bommel was angered by the reception from the Poles. "It is a real disgrace, especially after getting back from visiting Auschwitz, that you are confronted with this," Van Bommel said. "We will take it up with UEFA and if it happens at a match we will talk to the referee and ask him to take us off the field."

UEFA’s initial response was to suggest that the chanting was not racially-motivated, but was a protest against the Dutch using their club facilities. Van Bommel dismissed that explanation with contempt. "You need to open your ears," he said. "If you did hear it, and don't want to hear it, that is even worse."

There have been many misgivings about the potential for racist chanting in Poland and Ukraine during the tournament. Former England player Sol Campbell had even advised black fans not to visit Ukraine because of the potential for racially-aggravated violence.

In Poland, the prime minister Donald Tusk has attempted to head off the controversy, dining with Poland’s only black parliamentarian, and trying to paint a picture of Poland as a progressive and racially-tolerant country. The incident in Krakow suggests that there is still plenty of work to do.

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