England manager Roy Hodgson has urged UEFA and match officials to take action against any racist abuse aimed at his side at Euro 2012.
Hodgson’s squad were addressed by two Holocaust survivors, Zigi Shipper and Ben Helfgott, at their Hertfordshire base during a training session on Thursday in the build-up to Saturday’s friendly with Belgium.
Hodgson revealed that he would not be involved in dealing with racist behaviour during the tournament in Poland and Ukraine and insisted it is a matter that must be dealt with by the governing body and officials.
“My stance is simple. It’s a matter for referees and UEFA,” he said.
“You’re talking about something that is abhorrent to anybody, not just in football but in every walk of life.”
The talk from Holocaust survivors was clearly eye-opening for Hodgson and his squad.
“The impact of racism has been brought home to me with great effect on Thursday when you listen to two survivors of the Holocaust, two guys born in Poland who have a story to tell of how prejudice cost them everything but their lives,” Hodgson said.
“It cost six million people their lives and they happened to be two of the lucky ones. Racism in any form has to be abhorrent.”
A recent survey, conducted by FIFPro, showed that 9.6 per cent of players reported examples of racism or other forms of discrimination, but Hodgson wants his men to do their talking on the pitch in order to silence any chants from the stands.
“It is a topical question and one that I am sure is being heavily debated in UEFA – not just today but I bet they’ve been doing it for the last four years since it was decided the tournament would take place in Poland and Ukraine,” he said.
“What we can do, having qualified, is go there and play football to the best of our ability. This very important problem has got to be taken care of outside the footballing family.”
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