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Ukraine Hits Back At British Press After Euro 2012 'Racism' Allegations

Former Engand soccer international Sol Campbell
Former Engand soccer international Sol Campbell
Ukraine has accused the British media of waging a campaign to discredit the country ahead of the European soccer championship that it is co-hosting next month with Poland.

In a BBC "Panorama" program broadcast on May 28, former England international player Sol Campbell warned England fans not to travel to Euro 2012 because of the threat of racism and violence against nonwhites.

The documentary investigated the history of violence by football fans in Poland and Ukraine, and included footage of fans giving Nazi salutes and taunting black players with monkey noises.

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Oleh Voloshyn said on May 29 that the allegations of racism were an "invented and mythical problem."

Speaking to the BBC, Campbell indicated that he was repulsed by what he saw in the footage.

"I can't believe it, it just makes me feel sick," he said. "I just feel empty just watching it and also I feel hurtful because I know what those guys are going through."

He advised England fans not to travel to the tournament to avoid becoming victims of racist violence.

"Stay at home, watch on TV," he said. "Don't even risk it because you could end up...coming back, in a coffin."

The BBC Panorama footage showed a group of Asian students being attacked at a stadium in Kharkiv, one of the four Ukrainian cities which will be hosting group matches.

The families of two black England players have already said they would not go to the championship.

On May 29, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry spokesman Voloshyn said "You can criticize Ukrainian society for a lot of things ... but as far as racism is concerned, European Union member countries are a long way ahead of Ukraine."

Pedophile Alert

Meanwhile, Ukraine's ombudsman for children's rights has recommended that parents keep their young ones away from Euro 2012 due to potential predatory pedophiles.
Ukraine's ombudsman for children's rights Yuriy Pavlenko
Ukraine's ombudsman for children's rights Yuriy Pavlenko

Yuriy Pavlenko, the Ukrainian president's special representative on children's rights, told journalists in Kyiv on May 28 that sex tourists, including pedophiles, are expected to be among the hundreds of thousands of tourists who will flock to Ukraine for the championship.Pavlenko suggested that parents send their children away from cities that will host matches during the tournament:

"The president's instructions emphasize the safety of children during Euro 2012," he said. "Activities must be organized for them, and more than 16,000 camps will be set up on school premises.

"Parents are also advised to move children out of cities where matches will be held. Ukraine must be ready -- many people will visit who are not only interested in football."

He said President Viktor Yanukovych has ordered police to take extra measures to protect children during the tournament.

The United Nations children's organization UNICEF has said that Ukraine is one of Europe's largest hubs for sexual exploitation and human trafficking.

With reporting by Reuters, UNIAN, and Interfax
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