Last Monday the BBC’s documentary show ‘Panorama’ aired ‘Stadiums of hate’ showcasing discrimination and violence in Poland and Ukraine as they prepare to host the UEFO EuroCup with a strong message: Don’t travel there to see the tournament, especially if you’re a visible minority. Since the airing, many groups have taken issue with the documentary, claiming it too sensationalistic by focusing on fringe groups that are in a minority.
Rogers visits a stadium in Lodz, Poland, where supporters known as “Ultras” abuse the opposition with chants like “Jewish whore” and “Hey, hey, who’s not jumping is a Jew.”
Then he goes to Warsaw, where a white supremacist group known as “White Power” has formed around one of the city’s biggest clubs. They flash supremacist symbols at matches and break out in fights with opposition and police.
And that’s just Poland. While in Ukraine, Rogers witnesses monkey chants at black players and supporters… and police present at the match don’t do a thing about it.
But many criticisms of the documentary have appeared about the way the BBC looked to sensationalize this story by not interviewing experts or showing relevant statistics:
There were reports the BBC allegedly did not use material, such as a police statement and statistics which are said to not support the claims made in the programme.Aviram Baruchyam, a Jewish midfielder of Polonia Warsaw, allegedly admitted that he never had a problem with Poles and their behaviour towards him, but this did not feature in final cut.
Why did they not interview Jewish footballer Maor Melikson, a fans favorite, who plays on the wing for Wisla Krakow? The same goes for Saidi Ntibazonkiza, Burundian striker of similar position to Melikson, but on the other side of Blonie park, at Cracovia.
The BBC did not include statistics which reveal that over the last three years, out of 460,000 British visitors not even one have reported a racist incident in Poland.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has responded to the video, demanding an apology:
"I believe BBC must apologize for this film, which portrays Ukraine and Poland as countries of hatred and racism. BBC has edited a whole film from single pictures and drawn wrong conclusions," the official (Oleh Volosyn) said.
Voloshyn also noted that the issue of racism had not been discussed at the official level. On the contrary, Ukrainian officials have considered measures to secure Ukrainians from British fans, known for their aggression and racist moods, he added.
According to the official, the given series of episodes may be a deliberate provocation, initiated by British football clubs’ representatives, who want to keep ‘big football’ within the Western Europe.
As well Poland’s Foreign office has responded to the video:
“One could not find there the statements of foreign experts regarding the field of security,” Bosacki said.
“No one turned to the foreign ministry, or the Polish Police,” he said.
Similarly, Bosacki rejected England player Sol Campbell’s claim that black football fans “could come back in a coffin” if they attend the tournament.
Meanwhile, PL.2012, the official Polish body charged with organising the event, has invited Mr Campbell to Poland.
“We have invited Sol Campbell to come to the European Championships, so that he csn get to know our country, and then he will be fully entitled to express opinions about Poland,” said Mikolaj Piotrowski, communications director for Pl.2012.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk has already pledged that “nobody who comes to Poland will be in any danger because of their race.”
Soccer star Andriy Shevchenko also came out to defend Ukraine:
"We don’t have a real problem here about racism.” Shevchenko told the BBC.
"The country’s very quiet and people are very friendly.
Campbell claimed that Uefa should have researched the threat thoroughly before sanctioning Poland and Ukraine as hosts of such an important tournament.
But Shevchenko believes that Euro 2012 will pass without any such incidents.
"I know the country did everything to make this competition very good," he continued.
"I know how much work the country tried to do: airports, in streets, stadium in the last five years.
"We never have heard problems about racism."
Former Arsenal player Oleg Luzhny, who has represented Ukraine 52 times, supported counterpart Shevchenko’s comments.
"No, no, no, I never heard about this. We have Nigerian players…and I never heard about racism," Luzhny added.
I would recommend giving the video a watch and decide for yourselves.