Russian racists are reported by watchdog

Racist abuse by Russian fans toward a Czech Republic player at Friday’s Euro 2012 match was reported to UEFA yesterday.

Expert spotters from the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network identified verbal insults targeted at Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black, during Russia’s 4-1 win in Wroclaw, Poland.

“There was some suggestion that the Czech defender went to take a corner and had a few problems,” said FARE executive director Piara Powar. Fans also displayed a nationalist “Russian Empire” flag which “we take as evidence of far-right sensibilities,” Powar added.

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Film circulating online yesterday also showed some Russian fans attacking stadium stewards after the match. Four security personnel were treated in a hospital but were not badly injured, a Polish police spokesman said. Police are studying security video footage to identify fans involved.

UEFA said in a statement that “around 30 fans” attacked the stewards, and “the situation was quickly and efficiently brought under control”. The reported incidents came in the second match of Euro 2012, which kicked off Friday amid concerns of potential racist incidents involving fans in co-host nations Poland and Ukraine.

However, Russia’s fans are under scrutiny after UEFA linked up with FARE to appoint a 31-strong team of expert anti-discrimination spotters.

Two monitors, mingling with fans of each team at a match, will work to identify offensive banners, chants and behaviour in stadiums, and report to UEFA within 24 hours. Powar said FARE officials aimed to provide footage of Gebre Selassie being abused.

“We are trying to get that evidence, and it’s not always possible to capture it on film,” he said.

UEFA has pledged zero tolerance of discrimination at the tournament. Racism marred Dutch preparations for their opener against Denmark when several spectators made monkey noises during an open training session in Krakow, which was attended by 25,000 people.