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Krakow rejects Dutch race taunts claim

  • 19 Jun 2012
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Netherlands captain Mark van Bommel

The mayor of Krakow in southern Poland wrote to UEFA rejecting all claims that some fans racially abused Dutch players during a public training session before Euro 2012, AFP learnt on Tuesday.

The Netherlands captain Mark van Bommel said on June 8 that the players heard monkey chants during the practice two days earlier, which forced coach Bert van Marwijk to take the squad to the other side of the pitch.

European football's governing body UEFA reacted by writing to the mayors of host cities in Poland and Ukraine, asking them to take steps "to prevent discriminatory or racist behaviour at open training sessions".

But the mayor of Krakow, Jacek Majchrowksi, responded in a letter to UEFA general-secretary Gianni Infantino two days later, saying that he was astonished at the accusations.

"None of the people responsible for the organisation of the open training session... noticed any racist behaviour," he said in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by AFP on Tuesday.

"Krakow police went through the video monitoring records at the stadium, as well as through media records of the training -- the theory of alleged manifestations of racism has not been confirmed by any of these sources."

After the claims were first reported in the Dutch media, UEFA initially said that they had no reports of racist chanting at the training session and that the Dutch football federation had not made a formal complaint.

Instead, it said that some Polish fans were unhappy at UEFA for not making Krakow one of the four Polish host cities for the tournament.

But after van Bommel's comments, UEFA announced it had written to the host cities requesting a tightening of procedures and monitoring.

Majchrowksi said the allegations were "extremely unfair" and "harmful to the image of our city", which had a proud tradition of multi-culturalism.

"The crowds of Krakow... do not deserve the constantly repeated false allegations of a reputed racist incident during the Dutch representation's training session," he wrote.

The build-up to Euro 2012 was overshadowed by fears of racist violence, after a BBC television documentary showed images of football fans in both host nations making Nazi salutes and monkey noises at black players plus an attack on Asian students.

UEFA has since had to deal with racist chanting by supporters, the most high-profile being by Croatia fans against Italy's Mario Balotelli during their Group B match Poznan, Poland, last Thursday.

The Croatian football federation was fined 80,000 euros ($100,000, 64,500 pounds) on Tuesday.

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