The stain on European soccer

With the Euro tournament about to start, soccer fans around the world are naturally excited. But unfortunately we have yet another story of racist chants aimed at black players, this time in Poland.

Concerns over potential racism from fans at Euro 2012 came to the forefront Thursday when black players for the Netherlands heard monkey chants at an open training session, one day before the tournament opens.

According to a report in British newspaper The Guardian, hundreds of the 25,000 people in attendance in Krakow, Poland, targeted players Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel with monkey noises and loud jeers.

The Dutch were training in Krakow before leaving to face Denmark in their Group B opener on Saturday at Kharkiv, Ukraine. After hearing the chants, the players moved their drills to the other side of the stadium.

“It is a real disgrace especially after getting back from Auschwitz that you are confronted with this,” Dutch captain Mark van Bommel told The Guardian. “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.”

The first time a friend told me about monkey chants at games in England I couldn’t believe my ears. As Americans we’ve had to listen to Europeans lecture us about the racial turmoil in American history, as if they were somehow superior. This from a continent where ethnic conflict led to the deaths of millions over the centuries.

Based on this story, the problem with soccer fans and racism has not gone away. UEFA initially denied what happened, which makes things even worse. If they don’t take a hard line on this, they risk staining the entire tournament and European soccer in general.

They need to stop it and shame those who are responsible.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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