Huffpost UK Sport uk

Euro 2012: Amnesty International Warns England Fans About Racism And Corrupt Ukrainian Police

Posted: Updated:
Print Article
UKRAINE
England fans travelled to Dnipropetrovsk in 2009 | PA

Amnesty International issued a stark warning to England football fans on Friday over potential racism in Ukraine at the European Championship.

England face the joint host nation in their final group match at Euro 2012, and Max Tucker, Amnesty International's Ukraine campaigner, has urged travelling supporters to be wary of xenophobia and corrupt police.

“Fans and families visiting Ukraine for Euro 2012 have good cause to be concerned about their safety – particularly those of a racial minority," Tucker said.

“As if ultra-right football hooligans weren't enough to contend with, visitors will need to be on the lookout for a corrupt and brutal police force known to target individuals because of their skin colour. In one recent case, police pulled over an ethnic Azerbaijani and drunkenly beat him with batons for several hours while shouting racial abuse at him. The officers took it in turns to beat him after each became tired.

“Europeans accustomed to a different style of policing will come face to face with a force designed to enforce obedience to the state.

“Police are rarely held accountable for their actions so it is little surprise that they torture, extort and assault as they please. Add high passions and alcohol to the mix and you have a firecracker waiting to go off. Ukraine urgently needs a new system to reign in this out of control force.

Arsenal striker Theo Walcott's family have expressed their concern ahead of the 23-year-old travelling to the tournament.

Walcott's brother, Ashley, tweeted on his account, @ashwalcott, that he and his father, Don, have chosen not to go to Eastern Europe to support as they fear the possibility of racist attacks.

"Some things aren't worth risking, but begs the question why hold a competition of this magnitude in a place that can not police itself for foreigners of any creed to feel safe, but I'll be watching every minute," Walcott added.

Speaking on Wednesday after the unveiling of his squad, Three Lions manager Roy Hodgson said he was aware of the issues with racism and violence in the country.

"The issue of racism, especially the Sky report into the hooliganism and violence in Ukraine, is an obvious concern," he said.

"Not least the supporters who go over there and risk maybe getting beaten up."

Around the Web

England's Euro 2012 Chances: 5 Reasons They Can Still Win It

Nani: Germany will fear Portugal

Euro 2012 racism: 'It would be safer for me to watch Euros in the pub'

Russia's Euro 2012 squad: Aleksandr Kerzhakov

Euro 2012: Greece picks young players