Dutch stars claim thuggish locals hurled vile insults — including monkey chants — at their black players during training in Krakow, Poland.
The public session on Wednesday was meant to promote goodwill with the city. But Dutch skipper Marc Van Bommel was outraged by abuse from 500 supporters of Wisla Krakow — a local club whose stadium was used — as players ran round the pitch perimeter. He warned that if it happens during the tournament, Holland stars will demand the ref immediately abandons the game.
The AC Milan midfielder, who had earlier been with team-mates to see the nearby Nazi Auschwitz concentration camp, said: “It’s a disgrace that we were confronted with this.
“It’s especially so after getting back from Auschwitz. We will take it up with UEFA. If it happens at matches we will talk to the referee and ask to be taken off the field.”
Both UEFA and Netherlands officials initially tried to play down the incident. But Van Bommel was so annoyed he went public.
The AC Milan midfielder, son-in-law of Dutch team boss Bert Van Marwijk, added: “If people say they didn’t hear it, they need to open their ears. If they did hear it and didn’t want to — that’s even worse.”
Roy Hodgson’s England squad stage their first open training event this morning at their Hutnik training camp, on the outskirts of Krakow.
It is a ticket-only session, with 3,500 people invited. But, after what happened to the Dutch, all eyes and ears will be on the behaviour of local fans who turn up to watch.
UEFA chief Michel Platini has promised that referees WILL stop games if players are abused by fans.But he warned that any player leaving the field in protest without the ref’s authority will get a yellow card.
His ruling came under fire last night. Former Manchester United and Arsenal star Viv Anderson — the first black player to wear an England jersey when he made his debut in 1978 — said players should NOT be punished if they walk off.
He said: “It must really be down to the individual. If he feels the right thing is for him to leave the field he should not be punished in any way.”
Ged Grebby, chief executive of Show Racism The Red Card, said: “It’s absolutely barmy to punish players for making a stand. It’s not the right message to send out.”
Dan Hodges, of anti-racist group Hope Not Hate, added: “UEFA must be responsible for penalising the racists — not victims of racism.” Italy’s Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has already threatened to walk off if he suffers racist taunts.
Former France ace Platini told The Sun: “We’d certainly support the referee if he decided to stop the game.
“But it’s not a player, Mr Balotelli, who’s in charge of refereeing. It’s the referee who takes these decisions.”
England keeper Joe Hart backed Platini, saying: “It’s down to referees. We can’t take rules into our own hands. If the referee feels it’s right for us to walk off, we’ll follow him.”
Families of black England players Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are not going to the Euros in Poland and Ukraine because they fear abuse from violent and racist fans.
Former England star Sol Campbell has warned fans to stay away — or risk “coming home in a coffin”. England’s first group game is against France on Monday.
Meanwhile, Dutch players were so traumatised by Auschwitz they advised other squads not to go to the camp where a million Jewish people died.
Arsenal’s Robin van Persie was visibly shaken. Tottenham’s Rafael van der Vaart said: “It’s not something you forget. The squad is in shock.”
England players are set to visit the concentration camp today.
- GERMAN players have been told they can drink, romp with WAGs and even smoke at the Euros. Coach Joachim Löw has ordered his stars to relax between games. After their opener against Portugal on Saturday they have a “Love Day” set aside.