A shocking report by Panorama BBC TV on May 28 showed football hooligans in Kharkiv beating Indian supporters whilst local police stood by. After seeing these images, ex-England team captain Sol Campbell warned fans to “stay at home” or they could “end up coming back in a coffin.”
But while local black community leaders and racism experts acknowledge there is a serious problem, they say the threat of attacks is exaggerated and the situation is more complex.
Maksym Butkevych, an activist from the No Borders–Kyiv Initiative, a Kyiv-based organization monitoring racism in Ukraine, said racism in a predominately white Slavic country has been a problem for many years. “But I couldn’t say there’s a real threat for those who will come for the championship,” Butkevych stressed.
Worries that the football championship would devolve into an orgy of violence were heightened in a statement from Britain’s Foreign Office that urged the travelers of Asian or Afro-Caribbean descent to take “extra care” in Poland and Ukraine.