Euro officials play down racism woes
KIEV, Ukraine - The Associated Press
Italy’s Mario Balotelli announced he would not tolerate racism at Euro 2012. AP photoUkrainian officials are denying that football fans of African and Asian origin will be the targets of violence by racist hooligans at the European Championship, and a top tournament organizer says stewards will be the most visible security at stadiums.
A BBC documentary showed footage of Ukrainian hooligans attacking Asian fans at a domestic league match, as well as examples of blatant anti-Semitism.
Markiyan Lubkivskyi, UEFA’s tournament director in Kiev, said such claims were made by people who don’t know anything about the country. “For me, it is very important to bring to Ukraine a lot of people and a lot of supporters to discover Ukraine because Ukraine is still colored with a lot of horror stories, with a lot of rumors with a lot things which have nothing to do with reality,” he said.
Oleh Voloshyn, a spokesman for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, expressed disbelief at comments by Italy striker Mario Balotelli, who said this week he’d kill anyone who throws a banana at him - and would end up in jail. “I will persuade him that most probably the only place he can find bananas - even if he wants them - is in Ukrainian restaurants,” said Voloshyn.