The executive director of Euro 2012, Krzystof Pohorecki, has said the organisers are proud of the event’s success and believe they have proved pre-tournament doubters wrong.
Pohorecki said co-hosts Poland and Ukraine had overcome pre-tournament claims that fans faced a threat of racism and violence at Euro 2012 games.He said he had been surprised by a BBC Panorama programme, screened shortly before matches got under way, which showed footage of racist violence at domestic matches and asked whether UEFA should have chosen Poland and Ukraine as hosts.
Despite the tournament being mostly peaceful, stewards were attacked by Russian fans during their country's game against Czech Republic, violence broke out before the match between Poland and Russia, while Croatia, Spain and Russia were all fined by UEFA over racist behaviour by their supporters.But in an interview with the BBC, Pohorecki said: “We feel pride, because a lot of people didn't really believe we could make it and we did.
“From all the specific reports [about incidents] I have, there is always something you can do a little bit better for the next tournament. The next tournament is in France, so we will pass our knowledge on to them.”
He said he had been surprised by the Panorama programme “because in every country you can make this kind of programme”.
“You can make it in England, you can make it in the Netherlands... this kind of message, I think, you can make in any country,” he added. “At this kind of event, the size of the event, by definition and statistics there will always bring issues.”His comments echoed those of Gregory Surtis, the president of Ukraine’s football federation, who hit out at the BBC and former England player Sol Campbell. Campbell had responded to the Panorama footage of racist violence by suggesting fans who attended the tournament could be “coming back in a coffin.”
One group of England supporters paraded a mock coffin before the final group game against Ukraine to show their feelings about the ex-defender’s remarks.Surtis said: “The best reply to the BBC and Sol Campbell, who declared that there was racism in Ukraine and maybe fans wouldn't go back to England was, I think, English fans who actually took the coffin out prior to the match in Donetsk.
“What impresses me is that a person who has never been to Ukraine can give such commentary about the country.”