Keep it classy. Russian soccer fans hurled racist abuse at the Czech Republic's sole Black footballer and attacked game officials at the opening of the European Championship in Poland on Saturday. This is despite the fact that Russia won the Euro 2012 Group A match 4-1 over the Czech Republic, reports CBS News.
Expert spotters from the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network identified verbal insults targeted at Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black. Fans also displayed a nationalist "Russian Empire" flag which "we take as evidence of far-right sensibilities," FARE executive director Piara Powar said. Film circulating online Saturday 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.
Selassie was born in the Czech Republic to an Ethiopian father and Czech mother. Czech's lone black player said he's experienced "much worse" abuse, reports the AP.
The 25-year-old left back plays in the Czech league for champion Liberec and has been targeted by Sparta Prague fans in the past. Gebre Selassie said he was ready to forget the incident involving Russia fans. "Personally, I'm ready to put it behind me. I see no reason to discuss it with the media," he said, declining to give details about the abuse. He also said he didn't want to officially complain.
Last year, the Czech football association's disciplinary committee investigated Sparta Prague, whose fans were suspected of abusing Gebre Selassie in a league match. In a statement to the committee, the player said he was absolutely sure he was targeted, but wasn't in favour of any punishment for Sparta.
The incident follows another ugly situation in Poland. The Netherlands' four Black players faced racist jeers from on-lookers during training in Krakow on Wednesday.
The EURO 2012 games are hosted by Poland and Ukraine, which was represented last month at Eurovision by a Black contestant. "Of the 20 selected national teams, 8 have at least one black player," reports Afro-Europe. England, France and the Netherlands have the highest number of Black players.
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