Racism is threatening to overshadow the 2012 Euro Cup but it looks like the Uefa is doing its best to bring dignity to the tournament.
“If it happened I would walk off the pitch and return home. We are in 2012. It's not possible,” said Italian striker Mario Balotelli amid racism fears before the commencement of the Euro 2012 Cup. Unfortunately, despite all the awareness and anti-racism campaigns, Uefa were unable to stem the racist chants of the Spanish, Portuguese, Russian and Croatian supporters, and now disciplinary action is being demanded.
Racism charges have been laid against previous World Cup winners Spain after Balotelli was subjected to monkey calls, a sore point for the Italian footballer after the racial abuse he received throughout the Barclays Premier League season. Similarly, charges against Russia followed supporters' racist chants at Theodor Gebre Selassie, a defender for the Czech Republic who, although he acknowledges he was the intended victim of the racist chants, refuses to lay a complaint. The chants by the Russian supporters follow a $230 000 (about R1,9 million) fine for their conduct at the previous three Euro fixtures in Poland. Along with the fine, Uefa have threatened to deduct six points from Russia’s qualifying stages ahead of the 2016 Euro Cup. One cannot help but be amazed at how "supporters" of a country will continue with such disgusting behaviour even when their team is being so heavily penalised.
Unfortunately for the Uefa, it's very difficult to stop racism from the supporters of opposing teams when the racism is originating from the player's own home country. La Gazzeta dello Sport, Italy’s best-selling sports magazine, recently published a cartoon portraying Balotelli as King Kong climbing up Big Ben in London. The cartoonist defended himself by stating that the cartoon symbolises Balotelli’s domination of the English side in their quarter-final fixture. One has to wonder whether Balotelli has made himself a target due to his very aggressive and public stance on racism. Balotelli has not been the only footballer receiving abuse from his home country. With England’s loss to Italy, both Ashley Young and Ashley Cole fell prey to racist comments on Twitter from English football supporters.
It really is incredibly sad that an event such as the Euro Cup, where some of the world’s greatest footballers are able to showcase their talent and represent their country, has been marred by racist actions by the countries involved. Will there ever be an end to racism in football?