Tuesday, 29 May 2012

UEFA

So, we have just finished watching the BBC documentary "Euro 2012: Stadiums Of Hate" and we were disgusted (but sadly not surprised by what we saw).

For those who don't know, the host nations for this tournament are Poland and Ukraine and the documentary focused on the extremely high levels of prejudice visible in their football fans.



It is important to start this blog by stating quite categorically that not all Polish people or Ukrainian people are racist but clearly high levels of prejudice is still a massive problem, particularly within football.


In Polish cities, such as Łódź and Warsaw, they see a particular team as being the 'Jewish' team so enemy teams use anti-Semitic graffiti and anti-Semitic slogans to attack the 'Jewish' team. It is so shocking that in a place where millions of Jewish people were murdered because of their ethnicity that Polish people (who were also victims of Hitlerite aggression) demonise Jewish people the way the Nazis did. In Krakow, just forty-five minutes away from Auschwitz death camp, signs around the city state 'get rid of Jews'. The interesting thing is that Polish people were also murdered by the Nazis, so the Polish people who have flags saying death to hook noses and the anti-Jew front, would probably have been victims of the Nazis themselves. They clearly have no real understanding of their own history.





The prejudice is not solely contained to slogans and graffiti, violence is a real problem too. It seems incredibly strange and a little stupid, that UEFA has awarded this prestigious tournament to a country where racism and bigotry in football is such a huge issue. 


Jonathan Ornstein, Director of the Krakow Jewish Community Centre was featured in this documentary and we are very proud to have met him and to say that he is also included in our documentary. He spoke very eloquently about anti-Semitism in Poland which is still a very real problem today.


When the documentary travelled to Kiev in Ukraine, it was sickening to see the violent and aggressive forms of racism in Ukrainian society. You may remember us writing of our time in Kiev, when just days before we arrived a Jewish boy was beaten up so badly, he had to be administered to an intensive care unit. Just like the Nazis, the football fanatics seem to start their children on the path to bigotry very early; as young boys and girls were seen making monkey noises at black football players. From everyone we interviewed and everything we read about Ukraine, it seems that large parts of it are still filled with deep-seated hatred for non-Ukrainians. On our trip we interviewed the ever lovely Jenny Spektor to ask her view on minority rights in Ukraine. She painted a realistic but very sad picture, where victims of hate crimes are told by the Police to forget about the incident.  That seems to be a common theme in that part of the world, Police and government officials denying there is any problem whatsoever. 


In our opinions, the incidents we have written about today have a direct link to the Holocaust. The countries where anti-Semitism, racism and homophobia is still so rife, are the same countries that had a very traumatic Holocaust experience and have failed to not only come to terms with it in general but also their part in it. All countries in Eastern Europe must start towards a path to reconciliation and this can only be achieved by coming to terms with the past. The people who are screaming anti-Semitic slogans and shouting Zeig Heil, must know the true meaning of their words and how their country participated in the murder of millions of innocent people.


The last thing to say is, what the hell were UEFA thinking? Obviously they want to promote a united Europe but what they are instead doing is just condoning extreme forms of bigotry.

1 comment:

  1. I do not believe that UEFA condone the actions of these very racist people, however I believe that giving these two nations the opportunity to host such an event will being them more in line with the norm. Fifa and Uefa are both committed to 'kicking racism out of football' in the same way they had no place for violence within Italian football. By allowing these countries to host such event allows racist issues to come to the media spot light, and pressure can be applied from other football association. I can categorically tell you that this issue would not have even a quater of the attention it does if Poland and Ukraine were not hosting. Hopefully it will allow for a better ideology in a nation such as Ukraine which is still searching for a national identity.

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