England striker Wayne Rooney says his team’s trip to Auschwitz put ‘football into perspective’ ahead of their clash against France.
Members of the squad paid a visit to the site of the concentration camp in Poland on Friday, while there was also a separate trip to Oskar Schindler’s factory outside Krakow.
The experience clearly had an effect on the Manchester United ace, who is suspended for the first two games of Euro.
“It’s good to get that history of what happened. It puts football into perspective,” Rooney said.
“It’s hard to understand. I am a parent and it was tough to see what happened there.
“You’ve seen the amount of children who died. You see the children’s clothes and shoes, it’s really sad.
“You have to see it first hand. You don’t realise how those who lived there to work managed without food, without water. It’s a form of torture and then they died. The others got murdered.”
Arsenal’s Theo Walcott accompanied Rooney on the visit and revealed he too found it difficult to understand the horrors of the Holocaust.
“It is unreal,” said Walcott. “I learned some of this stuff at school but I could never imagine anything on this scale, it is just beyond belief or comprehension.”
Meanwhile, manager Roy Hodgson believes football could play an important role in educating people about Auschwitz and promoting tolerance in society.
“It is a very chastening experience. It’s difficult to imagine this type of inhumanity,” he said.
“You cannot understand how it can be so systematic, de-human. It was a job. It is difficult to get your head around.
“There are so many lessons to be learnt and understood from the Holocaust and we believe football can play its part in encouraging society to speak out against intolerance in all its forms – and in advancing the important work of teaching future generations about the horrors of the Holocaust.”
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