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Ukraine hits back at racism claims

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 12 Jun 2012

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Ukrainian Football Federation President Grygoriy Surkis has hit back at claims racism is rife in his country.

Former England defender Sol Campbell had warned of the potential dangers of racism in Poland and Ukraine prior to the tournament after being shown footage filmed by the BBC.

The families of England internationals Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain refused to travel to the host nations in fear of racially motivated attacks.

But Surkis has rejected the criticism, and called into question England’s own record on the issue.

“I want to pay attention to the fact that sometimes it happens in the country where football was born,” he told Goal.com.

“In England, the national team has not brought a player (Rio Ferdinand) because of a conflict over racism.

“That is enough, (so let’s) focus on the important things.”

Fears peaked ahead of the tournament when several Dutch players reported racist abuse during a training session, but Surkis played down such events.

“Everybody knows that there can be individual cases in our stadiums, but I don’t think that we should pay attention to these individual cases,” he said.

“We made preventative measures, and we try to fight this racism thing, but the tournament has started and I don’t think that that we should talk about racism in Ukraine.

“I think that you should be sure that it’s not a problem in Ukraine, because there was no case connected to racism before the tournament or during the tournament so far, and I really hope there will be no such case.”

Borys Kolesnikov, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister, believes racism is not common in Ukraine, and that it is only perpetrated by ‘crazy people’, the likes of which are found in every country.

“I want to say that in our country we had years when we were a part of the Soviet Union,” he told Goal.com.

“Millions of foreigners arrived from Africa, from Latin America and other parts of the world, so … in the Soviet Union, in Ukraine, there was no racism.

“Of course, crazy people you can find in every country, but I don’t think that it is common, and it is not even a system(atic) thing. I think it’s just provocation to say such a word.”

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