LONDON, England, May 17 – The family of England international Theo Walcott have vowed not to travel to Euro 2012 after voicing fears they may be targeted for racist abuse by hooligans in Ukraine, it emerged on Thursday.
Walcott’s brother Ashley revealed on Twitter that he and his father Don would not be following England during their group matches in Kiev and Donetsk next month because of concerns for their safety.
“Unfortunately my dad and I have taken the decision not to travel to the Ukraine because of the fear of possible racist attacks confrontations (sic) …” Walcott wrote on the micro-blogging site.
“Somethings aren’t worth risking, but begs the question why hold a competition of this magnitude in a place that can not police itself for foreigners of any creed to feel safe, but I’ll be watching every minute.
“Racism has no place in the modern world.”
On Wednesday, England manager Roy Hodgson voiced concern that supporters may be subjected to racist attacks in Ukraine, as he discussed the inclusion of John Terry in his squad, who himself is facing a court case for alleged racial abuse.
Hodgson’s comments came after a Sky Television report earlier this week which said Ukrainian Neo-Nazis in Donetsk were planning to target black and Asian England supporters at next month’s finals.
“There’s no doubt that the issue of racism, and the Sky report into hooliganism, and the violence in the Ukraine is obviously a concern to us all I would think, not least of all the supporters who are going to go over there and maybe risk getting beaten up if they don’t happen to be white,” Hodgson said.
Rafal Pankowski, head of the UEFA-backed regional monitoring arm of Football Against Racism in Europe, acknowledged that there was an issue across the continent.
“Racism is a pan-European problem and in East European stadiums it sometimes expresses itself in graphic ways,” he told AFP.
“Our research has shown it has been a genuine problem in both Poland and Ukraine. However, Euro 2012 has been a good impulse for anti-racist educational activities in the host countries.
“It has helped raise awareness of those issues and promote respect for diversity in both Polish and Ukrainian society.”