Euro 2012 Fans Unite Against Racism

Read about the effort to repair soccer's image and promote tolerance.

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When it comes to racism in the world soccer community, we've heard enough negative stories to fill a stadium. Most recently, there was the report from a watchdog group that fans were hurling slurs at the Czech Republic's only black player, and the racially charged call by a former England star for supporters not to attend matches there because they might return "in a coffin."  

Today, some good news: The fans from around the world who are more interested in the love of the game than in throwing bananas at black athletes have come together in Ukraine's capital to send that message to the world with some friendly, tolerance-promoting matches. The Washington Post reports:

In co-host Poland, European soccer authorities are investigating alleged racial abuse directed at two black players during Euro 2012 matches and have pledged zero tolerance of discrimination during the three-week tournament in the two countries.

Dozens of fans wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the words "Football Unites" played five-minute matches in the Euro 2012 fan zone set up on Kiev's main avenue. Hundreds of spectators cheered and applauded the players.

"People from different nationalities, different cultures, different backgrounds -- we play, we form teams, it's just a friendly street kick," said Aniki Johnson, a 50-year medical equipment salesman from Nigeria, who helped organize the event. "It's been very, very peaceful, a very friendly atmosphere."

Dan Nott, a 30-year old geography student from Bristol, England, wearing a blue vest, emerged exhausted, but upbeat after his match against a team of yellow-vested players ended in a 1-1 draw.

"It's to unite people across the world, to say ‘no' to racism," Nott said, breathing heavily. "It's a good cause."

Read more at the Washington Post.

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