Friday, June 29, 2012

Panorama. Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate
After watching Panaroma's documentary “Euro 2012: Stadiums of Hate” and after having lived in Poland for a while, I thought the show was extremely sensationalist and patronising. But it wasn't just me who thought it was sensationalist. The Ukrainian ambassador in the UK and the Polish press have accused the show of being “biased and unfair” after they showed terrible scenes of anti-Semitic and racist acts in Ukrainian and Polish stadiums.

It included footage of Polish fans chanting anti-Semitic slogans and giving Nazi salutes, and showed a group of Asian supporters being beaten and punched at an end-of-season league match in Ukraine.”

If one just watches the show and does not know the reality of these countries,
then one would happily keep away from Polish or Ukrainian stadiums. As shown in the documentary, even former England defender Sol Campbell asked fans to watch the football on TV as otherwise : "… you could end up coming back in a coffin." Sol Campbell was right in feeling so terrified with the footage as these acts are simply inadmissible. All violent acts of racism and anti-Semitism should be banned and punished.

There is no doubt that racism and anti-Semitism still exist in Poland and Ukraine, but I think it is quite specific and isolated. It mainly happens in the national league and it is promoted by extreme right groups. Hence we are talking about isolated facts that do not represent the general situation of both countries. I don't think acts of racism are particular to certain countries as they happen everywhere else in Europe. One of the guests to the show, Jonathan Ornstein, the executive director of the Jewish community centre in Krakow, was particularly angry with the BBC and the way they manipulated his comments:

Panorama had "exploited me as a source" and claimed it had "used me and others to manipulate the serious subject of anti-Semitism for its own sensationalist agenda".

Actually what he said was that although there are still some acts of racism and anti-Semitism in the country, Poland is more and more a tolerant country and that one cannot define a whole society based on the actions of a few hooligans. Anti-Semitism is a very sensitive subject in Poland and after reading the Polish press, I personally think that Panorama made a very sensational and selective use of the information. I think they were looking for sensationalism and they found it. In the end they showed us what they wanted us to see.

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