UEFA has launched an investigation into Spanish fans racially abusing Mario Balotelli
So far in the first round of the group stage there has been no team nor an individual player setting this Euro on afire. The closest has been Russia and Alan Dzagoev with Andrey Arshavin recapturing his 2008 Euro form. Spain and Italy were intriguing tactical battles. Germany and Netherlands disappointed given all that talent and firepower. Ukraine showed they would not be pushovers.
We can debate the merits of each team and their players performances but the real headline is the racism and the hooliganism that have permeated this Euro. From the Dutch training camp, to the chants against the Czech Republic’s Theodor Gebre Selassie, and now to Mario Balotelli in the Italy vs Spain match. In addition to the racism, Russian fans attacked four Polish stewards beating them up after their match against the Czech Republic. They are still to be identified. Fourteen supporters were arrested before the Ireland vs Croatia game after they hurled chairs and beer bottles in Poznan Square. In all, 72 arrests have been made in the first three days with supporters charged with disorderly conduct.
In today’s Russia vs Poland match, police are gearing up for more potential violence. Both countries share a bloody history with Russia now admitting to the 1940 Katyn massacre which killed 22,000 Polish army men. The situation could exacerbate as Russian fans have been permitted to march to the National Stadium in Warsaw as part of their country’s national day. The 2010 Smolensk air disaster that virtually wiped out the entire Polish political establishment sparked off conspiracy theories of a Russian cover up which have undermined any warming up relations between the two countries. Those suspicions could translate to some pitched battles between the two groups of supporters, amongst the world’s most volatile fans.