Racism fear keeps hosts on the toes
Italy striker Mario Balotelli said he would “kill” anyone who threw a banana at him in the street during the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine next month.sports Updated: May 30, 2012 23:58 IST
Italy striker Mario Balotelli said he would “kill” anyone who threw a banana at him in the street during the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine next month.
The volatile Manchester City player experienced racism during his time in Serie A and there are fears that black players could be subjected to it at the tournament.
“I will not accept racism at all,” Balotelli, who was abused by Juventus and Roma fans while playing for Inter Milan in 2009, told France Football magazine.
“If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail because I will kill them,” he added, referring to an incident in Rome when someone threw a banana at him in a bar.
“It was lucky the police arrived quickly because I swear, I would have beaten them. I would really have destroyed them. “I hope it never happens again.”
BBC television's current affairs show Panorama highlighted possible racism in Ukraine and Poland this week in a programme entitled Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate.
Images of fans making Nazi salutes and monkey chants towards black players have heightened fears that the tournament could be marred by crowd trouble.
Some black England players such as Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have said their families will not travel to watch the matches next month.
“Let’s see what happens at the Euros,” said Balotelli. “I hope it will pass without problem. I really couldn't deal with that. If it happened I would walk off the pitch and return home.
“We are in 2012. It's not possible.”
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that fears of racism at the tournament had been exaggerated. “Nobody who comes to Poland will be in any danger because of his race,” he told a news conference in Rome.
“This is not our custom, as is not pointing out similar incidents in other countries, although we know they take place. In Poland, they’re a rarity.”
In Kiev, Ukraine’s foreign ministry went further, saying the allegations were a “dreamed up and mythical problem”.
“You can criticise Ukrainian society for a lot of things ... but, in the practice of racism, European Union member countries are a long way ahead of Ukraine,” said ministry spokesman Oleh Voloshyn in comments reported by Interfax news agency.
First Published: May 30, 2012 23:56 IST