MEMBERS of a Sheffield charity invited to Euro 2012 to spread anti-racism messages say they have encountered nothing but friendship so far.
The group, representing Sharrow-based organisation Football Unites Racism Divides, were invited to take part in a programme of anti-racism and anti-hooliganism activities taking place during the football championships in Poland and Ukraine, amid fears fans and players could be subject to racial abuse.
Dutch captain Mark van Bommel has already complained saying some of his black team-mates were abused during a training session before the tournament kicked off yesterday.
But Howard Holmes, of FURD, says his group - some of whom have been based in Poland for the past few days and with other members arriving in Ukraine yesterday - have not encountered any problems themselves.
FURD, which was set up by Sheffield United fans in 1995, is represented by a multi-racial team of 15 staff and young people aged between 17 and 25 at the tournament.
The group are running Streetkick friendly football games for fans in the two host countries
Mr Holmes said: “I think it is good van Bommel has spoken out as this kind of thing should never be swept under the carpet, but I am pleased to say that in the few days we have been here there has been no similar incidents.
“Although we are aware that Eastern European countries have a reputation of minority right wing and neo Nazi fan groups at domestic games we have encountered no problems so far.
“We remain hopeful the authorities have dealt with any potential problems and the carnival atmosphere usually associated with football tournaments shines through.”
On the trip FURD aims are to promote Football Against Racism in Europe and UEFA’s anti-racism message, distribute FARE’s information leaflets to promote some of the work they carry out on the continent, and encourage fans from different countries to engage and play with each other in a friendly, positive and fun way.”
FURD Team Ukraine will be in Kiev until June 20 while Team Poland are in Krakow from Wednesday to Saturday, June 16, and Poznan from Sunday to Wednesday, June 17 to 20.