Euro racism issues overblown – expert

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Donetsk_stadium REUTERS .

Kiev – A Ukrainian anti-racism expert and foreign fan said fears of racist attacks at Euro 2012 were “overblown despite allegations of racism aired in a British television documentary.

“”I think this reaction (to racism) is exaggerated. My colleagues do not predict any increase of racist violence in Ukraine during the European football championship,” said anti-racism campaigner Maksym Butkevych.

“African-American soccer fan Emeka Ogbonna, in Kiev for the finals, agreed, telling Reuters at the fan zone in the heart of the city: “”I think it has been overblown.”

Even so, he felt it was positive that a light was being shone on the subject, saying: “I think highlighting it at this particular time makes everybody aware (of racism in football).”

Sudanese soccer fan Omar, who lives in the Russian city of Kazan with his family, said he had been racially taunted on the streets of Kiev the previous day and called for better education on matters of race in Ukraine.

“There hasn't been enough work done in cultural education. I mean, besides fixing roads and stadiums, they should have worked... to raise the cultural level of the youth.”

Butkevych agreed there was still a lot of work to be done in educating the Ukrainian public but added: “ be frank, the Ukrainian situation regarding racism and xenophobia is not something exceptional in the Eastern European context.”

Butkevych, who works with victims of racism and xenophobia, said he would welcome an investigation into the findings in the BBC documentary which was broadcast last month, something the Ukrainian government has not yet undertaken. – Reuters

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