Captain's blog: Ukraine and Poland should be given a chance to shine as hosts (From Falmouth Packet)
Captain's blog: Ukraine and Poland should be given a chance to shine as hosts
I have heard a lot of scaremongering this week with regards to the European 2012 Football Championships, due to be held in Poland and Ukraine in a week-and-a-half's time.
And when a say scaremongering, I don't mean people coming out with statements like; England won't get past the group stage, France will thrash us three or four-nil in the first game and I'd stand more chance of winning Euro 2012 than Roy Hodgson's side if a cut off my right leg and played as a one-man, one-legged, two-armed team.
This is because all of the above statements, apart from the last one, are pretty close to the truth.
The same cannot be said for England defender Sol Campbell's comments on Monday. He told the BBC’s Panorama programme that fans should 'stay at home' and 'watch the championships on TV'.
He said it wasn't worth travelling to the Championships because they 'could end up coming back in a coffin.'
Added to that the families of several black players; including Theo Walcott, Joleon Lescott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain said they would not be travelling to Euro 2012, citing concerns about possible racist abuse.
Putting aside the fact that they could just avoid John Terry for the two weeks they will be out there, all these comments have painted the two host countries in a very bad light.
It was a similar case surrounding the World Cup in South Africa in 2010. The media tried to claim that the country was not safe to host a major footballing competition, by linking the proximity of the Togo Football Team bus attack in the Africa Cup of Nations earlier that year.
Putting aside the fact that the countries are over a 1,000 miles apart, I visited South Africa for the World Cup and witnessed less violence there than on the streets of Falmouth on a Friday night. In fact the locals were very welcoming and keen to show their country in a good light.
And while I'm not saying that they aren't incidents of racism in Poland and Ukraine, I'm positive that the European Championships will pass without any trouble.
This is because the majority of Polish and Ukrainians will be keen to show their country in a good light as well.
And for those English people that disagree with that, you only need to look back to Euro 96.
It was the tournament in which England was given it's chance to shine as hosts, only six years after England fans had rioted in Sardinia during the Italia 1990 World Cup.
It was also not long after a decade of football hooliganism that brought shame on the country and saw English clubs banned from European football following violence on the continent.
No doubt there would have been talk, just as there is now, amongst football fans of other countries that England wasn't a safe place to visit. There would have been people warning fans not to travel for fear of being injured or worse.
All of which didn't come to fruition. I think it's time Sol and the rest stopped trying to pre-judge the actions of those in Poland and Ukraine and give them the opportunity to prove their critics wrong as well.