Openly racist behaviour limited to minority, however
Members of the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) team at the European Championships in Portugal have witnessed racist behaviour by a small number of fans at several matches during the group stages. Their provocations have not met with the approval of the mass of supporters, however.
The negative highlight occurred at yesterday’s match between Croatia and France, when ‘monkey chants’ were repeatedly directed at Sylvain Wiltord by Croatian fans. FARE workers estimate the number of people involved in the racist abuse to be as many as a thousand. There were also two Croatian flags bearing Celtic crosses, the symbol of the international White Power movement. Stewards were asked by FARE observers to have these banners removed, but neglected to do so.
These were not the only racist incidents, however, as FARE workers had earlier received reports of other occurrences elsewhere.
Before the match between Spain and Russia, for example, some 50 clearly neo-Nazi Spanish fans were seen walking around in Faro. The fans drew attention with tattoos and flags featuring neo-Nazi symbols such as Waffen-SS skulls, Celtic crosses and the number 88 (abbreviation for HH = Heil Hitler).
At the Denmark versus Italy game in Guimarães, a small group of Italian fans gave the Italian fascist salute during the national anthem.
In the night before the Germany versus Holland match, a number of extreme-right fans wearing shirts and caps of the neo-Nazi brand ‘Thor Steinar’ mingled under the German and Dutch supporters celebrating on the central square by the river Douro. One T-shirt bore the words ‘Ultima Thule’ – the name of an openly neo-Nazi band from Sweden. Fortunately, nobody joined in the songs these fans attempted to start.
On the way to the ground a small number of German fans hoisted a Reichskriegsfahne, a World War II Nazi flag which is banned in Germany. Inside the stadium one German fan gave the Hitler salute during the national anthem. During the game itself small groups of German fans directed “monkey chants” at Edgar Davids, while the broad mass of German fans drew attention with repeated renditions of homophobic songs aimed at the Dutch.
A FARE documentation team is attending selected Euro 2004 matches and hopes to receive the support of all fans. Individual supporters have already reported racist incidents on the hotline number 00351-966027283.
Porto, 18 June 2004