Just this past Saturday evening I attended a dinner event at the Ukrainian Home Dnipro on Genesee St. in Buffalo. I had the opportunity to speak with the bartender about the up coming European Football (Soccer) Championships being jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine. We were worried because we had heard that there was a potential for racial and ethnic violence at the event and what a shame that would be because both nations stood to gain valuable tourism advertising from this event. We hoped that only good came from the Championships.
Today I discovered that a rather disturbing program appeared on the British Broadcasting Corporation program Panorama titled “Stadiums of Hate.” The program commentator discusses and shows video footage of Soccer hooligans beating people of color, calling for gassing Jews, flashing the Nazi salute, and training for violence all in the name of supporting their local clubs.
Viewers are shown the violence and racist of thousands of hooligans in Polish and Ukrainian stadiums. A police official most amazingly claims the people were are not flashing Nazis signs or chanting slogans just pointing at the opposing teams fans.
What was more shocking was to see in the program Rzeszow, Poland – Buffalo, NY Sister City. I wondered what Buffalo’s two Ukrainian Sister Cities – Drohobych and Horlivka – lined up in this sad state of affairs.
I really hope that the good people of both nations do what needs to be done and stand up to the extremists who appear willing to drag their newly independent nations through the mud to satisfy their xenophobia and hatreds.
The program has been posted below.