OT: Great BBC Documentary on Racism in Polish and Ukranian Soccer

Submitted by jcgold on May 30th, 2012 at 11:50 PM


With Euro 2012 starting in less than two weeks, the BBC released this documentary on racism  and xenophobia in Polish and Ukranian soccer. A BBC reporter spent several weeks visiting different Polish and Ukrainian stadiums on matchday, and the footage is appalling:

After watching, I couldn't help but wonder if this kind of event would help to create change in these countries or would simply provide a forum for this kind of activity to continue. What do you guys think about this?



May 30th, 2012 at 11:52 PM ^

...but I beseech thee, in the bowels of Angry MGoMod Hating God... please, please keep the ethnic jokes to a minimum.



May 31st, 2012 at 12:05 AM ^

Following soccer has actually opened my eyes to racism in europe in a big way. I figured it would be worse in the US (what with our history with slavery), but in fact we've become so politically correct because of the backlash that we're probably one of the least racist countries. My view of it may be a bit skewed from living in Ann Arbor, but that's the sense I get at least. Not only in Poland & Ukraine, but all over europe players are subjected to racist chants and trash talk. I know if a fan in the Big House called an opposing player a monkey he would get the shit beaten out of him, but it's not as uncommon in Europe (obviously I'm generalizing a bit here, but still).


Edit: After watching that video, holy shit that was bad. As a jew especially, that was utterly disgusting to watch. Perhaps Euro 2012 will bring this racism to the mainstream media and hopefully bring about some change. At the very least it will be a huge controversy. 


May 31st, 2012 at 12:20 AM ^

I love Europe and the time I've spent there but it's absolutely one of the most racist places.  Don't forget that where a lot of "theories" about race/eugenics/etc originated in Europe and were used to justify imperialistic actions.  Yeah, the US was pretty bad domestically but Europe was pillaging Africa and Asia during our reconstruction period.  They still haven't fully gotten over it.  Eastern Europe is still particulalry bad.


May 31st, 2012 at 12:49 AM ^

Racism In Italy. It essentially follows all the problems that Chinese immigrants face in Italy and the taboos broken when an Italian man marries a Chinese woman.


May 31st, 2012 at 1:37 AM ^

What a fantastic contradiction that the English are calling out others for acquiescing to racism.

They really took a stand for moral righteousness when they had to choose between Rio and JT...(yeah yeah Rio is "injured")



May 31st, 2012 at 4:05 AM ^

I'm not sure what you're referring to but with my limited knowledge I'd have to say that eastern Europe is certainly worse in this regard, mostly based on what I've heard from Englishmen I know who are black and Indian. I don't think that black English player would be on there if England was just as bad. English hooligans have a terrible reputation, deservedly so, but I've heard things have changed a lot since a few decades ago or whenever it was worse.

Also, you sound like you're talking about something like a roster choice. Which, whether racist or not, is a far cry from beating the hell out of your team's fellow fans because they're not white.


May 31st, 2012 at 4:28 AM ^

The US is definitely one of the least racist countries in the world. All groups of people are racist frankly, but the US has had to deal with so many racial issues that it's gotten over things to a great extent. Obviously, racism is a problem in America still, but it's certainly better than most of the rest of the world. European countries (especially those farther east) don't have as much racial tension and race crimes simply because there are far less minorities there. It's just a matter of numbers in that regard.


Take a look at this response by some Poles and Ukrainians. The stupidest thing is how white players let the media know their fans aren't racist. They have Nigerian players and they're fine supposedly. But why aren't the black players interviewed on here? God forbid someone in the media might have actually walked to the other side of the locker room to ask one of them. Mind-bogglingly stupid.

I taught English in Europe for a very short time and for one class, I brought in an article I had just seen showing neo-Nazis on the steps of the Italian parliament doing a sieg heil. I figured  that could be a good discussion, but nobody gave a damn about it. Like that dude says in the OP's video, it's not so much that someone painted some racist stuff on a wall but that thousands of people walk by it and don't seem to mind.


May 31st, 2012 at 3:23 AM ^

I'm white and I'm completely scared to ever see a game in any of those places.  Those people are just downright evil and I would be nervous being around any of them.


May 31st, 2012 at 6:46 AM ^

Living in Chicago, I see some of this racism. I grew up in a Ukrainian neighborhood (now called "Ukrainian Village.") And Chicago is often called the second largest Polish city in the world, after Warsaw. The area of suburbia I live in now has many Poles, Russians, Indians, Blacks, and Hispanics. The huge difference between this and Ann Arbor is that these are working class immigrants, and not University educated folks working on PhD's. Don't kid yourself about racism being behind us. This whole thing about America being a "melting pot" is often a myth. There may be many immigrants, but they quite often live very segregated lives, existing in their own ghettos and enclaves.

Five years ago, I spent about a month working with refugees at the largest compound in central Europe, located in Austria about 30 kilometers south of Vienna. In discussions with a few local Austrians, the xenophobia and hatred on display by many was fairly obvious.

But to focus on Europe is too easy. Black on black racism in Africa is endemic. (Think about "Hotel Rwanda" and the genocide and ethnic cleansing going on all over.) And going to school in Korea for six months, you see a monolithic culture, where national and racial identity are closely intertwined. Seeing how Koreans, Japanese, and southeast Asians relate to each other is often not a pretty sight.


May 31st, 2012 at 8:51 AM ^

I was a boy less than a mile from there. It is vastly, vastly different from the time I grew up. Few of the Ukrainians who were there in the 60's could afford to live there now. Less than 10 years ago, I visited the house I grew up in, and I dare say you couldn't touch it for less than $2 million, even in today's depressed economy. When I was there, Polish and Hispanic gangs were rife, with people killed in the alley behind my house, less than 50 feet from my back door. Since then, people realized, hey, this is only 15 minutes from the loop, why not live here? Severe gentrification took place, and almost everyone has been priced out of the area.


May 31st, 2012 at 6:19 AM ^

Soviet rule surpressed a lot of this crap for decades.  20 years after the changes, the old prejudices have re-emerged.  

Several matches are probably going to be suspended by UEFA refs. Once they are, that will be the signal for any visitors contemplating staying for the next match to "get out of Dodge".

Big mistake UEFA. You should have picked Italy.






May 31st, 2012 at 8:22 AM ^

Based on what I learned from this video, here is no way Ukraine should be allowed to host these matches. The officials are in denial and pretend there are no racial issues. 

Poland seems to be a bit different, in that there is at least some acknowledgment of problems and attempts to make changes.  It does look like these matches are forcing the officials to take some action out of fear of embarrassment over the actions of the fans, and it doesn't seem like very many were paying attention until the thought of international fans, media, and scrutiny were in the offing. 



May 31st, 2012 at 9:20 AM ^

the thing is many of them likely really don't think that what they're doing is racist. they're likely to think it's healthy nationalism. when i was over there, it was very commonplace to meet people who would claim that what i saw as their obviously racist attitudes were really just a result of their being honest about their thoughts. they thought, when i denied sharing their racist attitudes, that i was obviously lying. much of the issue, especially in towns where nazis exterminated all the jews, is that there are no publicly identifiable members of the groups they're villifying that they interact with on a personal basis, so there's no feedback from members of those groups to get them to realize that what they're doing is wrong.

also, i have no doubt that ukrainians would deny that violence against foreign students is indicative in any way of how tourists would be treated, because they think how they treat people domestically has nothing to do with how they'd treat visitors, and is nobody's business except theirs. (i've met several dutch people who think it's a worthwhile observation that only americans and french people think they can go around telling people what's right and wrong and how they should act.) but in general, many europeans really have no conception of what it would be not to be racist, in an american sense.

an anecdote that might help: an austrian friend of mine visited romania, and was told by his romanian girlfriend that several areas were dirty because gypsies lived there. she wasn't being racist, she claimed--she was just telling him where the dirty parts were. it was a simple matter of fact to her that gypsies were dirty. but for his part, he couldn't tell which parts were gypsy areas and which parts were ethnically romanian. when i denied, speaking to another romanian girl, that there were morally important differences between romanians and gypsies living there, her reply was "oh...so americans have no culture. that's very interesting. so if i ever want to have no culture, i can move to america."


May 31st, 2012 at 10:45 PM ^

that's how much of eastern europe is. [SNIP] ukraine is run by putinistas who have jailed tymoshenko, the previous prime minister, on trumped up charges because of her pro-democracy politics. rewarding ukraine with a big soccer tournament is insane, but the selection was made in 2007 on the eve of tymoshenko's election, when ukraine was in a much different place. (this is probably an argument against rewarding the tournament to any country that's close in any way to russia for the foreseeable future, just in case they take a hard rightward turn between the selection and the tournament itself.)

edit: removed the political comment since people marked this as flamebait. just for the record, i wasn't trying to bait anyone--that was an honest (and i think genuinely revelatory) observation.


May 31st, 2012 at 2:57 PM ^

It's not just racism.  I remember being on a business trip in Bavaria and they were trashing the people who lived in northern Germany.  Then I went to Austria, and the Austrians looked down on the Bavarians and way down on the folks from northern Germany.


May 31st, 2012 at 4:39 PM ^

Northern Italians do not think much of the poorer, less ethnically pure Southern Italians. Sicily in particular is a subject for disdain. My family is from  central Italy and I was told long ago that  Italians from the Mezzogiorno were "less Italian" than others.


It should be kept in mind that Italy and Germany are younger  as states than the US. While there has been an Italian and German ethnic identity for centuries there has not been a unified state. Hence, the provincialism that many felt and to a certain extent, still feel in both countries.


May 31st, 2012 at 4:33 PM ^

is aware of the intensity of Polish and Ukrainian anti-Semitism. In fact, some German SS totenkopf guards were taken aback by the sadism of the Ukrainian guards. Many Poles openly applauded and exploited  the ghettoization and then extermination of Poland's Jews. 

Ancient animuses' do not die easily.