Racism 'a reason for smaller following'

Daily Echo: England fans England fans

England fans' leaders claim the threat of racist abuse has contributed to supporters choosing not to go to Ukraine for the three Euro 2012 group games.

Former England defender Sol Campbell has warned black or Asian fans not to risk going to the Ukraine and Kevin Miles, international director for the Football Supporters' Federation, said while they would not go that far they would urge caution.

Mr Miles said Ukraine would see the smallest contingent of England fans for any European Championship due to problems of transport, expensive accommodation - and the reputation for racism. He said: "The threat of racism is one of the issues behind the small number of England fans expected to attend the tournament."

Mr Miles added: "The process of awarding these tournaments should give greater consideration to what the experience of the supporters would be - transport, accommodation cost and is the environment welcoming to fans of all backgrounds and sexual orientation.

"Instead the 2022 World Cup has gone to Qatar where homosexuality is illegal and Euro 2012 to Ukraine where there racism on the streets is a problem.

"But that's not news, the Foreign Office have been saying black and Asian people should exercise caution on their website for five years."

The biggest turnout of England fans will be just 6,000 for the Sweden match, fewer than travelled to South Africa and Japan, said Miles. That contrasts with up to 20,000 travelling Irish fans.

"It's certainly the lowest England turn-out for a European tournament," he added. "It's also not the easiest place to get to around, the prices are so expensive and there is not a great deal to do between matches. Donetsk is not the Algarve."

Campbell told the BBC's Panorama fans should "stay home, watch it on TV... don't even risk it."

Panorama filmed Nazi salutes from the terraces, black players being taunted with monkey chants, and a group of Asian students being assaulted.

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