Former England defender warning fans against attending Euro 2012

Former England defender Sol Campbell is warning fans against travelling to Poland and Ukraine to watch the European Championship, claiming authorities are failing to tackle entrenched racism and violence in the countries. "You could end up coming back in a coffin," Campbell, who is black, told the BBC.
Sol Campbell runs with the ball during a match against Tottenham Hotspur. Four fans have been banned from football games for three years after pleading guilty to yelling indecent chants at Campbell during the game, which was marred by racist and homophobic crowd behavior. (Tom Hevezi/Associated Press)

Former English soccer star Sol Campbell is urging fans to not go to Poland and Ukraine for the European Championship, contending racism and violence there make it too dangerous.

"Stay at home, watch it on TV. Don't even risk it ... because you could end up coming back in a coffin," Campbell, who is black, told the BBC.

The families of two of England's black players, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, have indicated they are unlikely to travel to the Euros because of fears of racist abuse. The tournament starts June 8.

After witnessing footage in the BBC's Panorama program of fans from the host nations giving the Nazi salute and taunting black players with monkey noises, Campbell said European soccer's governing body was wrong to award the tournament to Poland and Ukraine.

"What they should say is, `If you want this tournament, you sort your problems out," he said. "Until we see a massive improvement ... you do not deserve these prestigious tournaments in your country."'

The documentary also shows a group of Asian students being attacked at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv, one of the host venues.

In a statement, UEFA said the tournament "clearly creates an opportunity to address and confront such societal issues."

"UEFA's `zero tolerance' approach to racism is still valid both on and off the pitch and ultimately the referee has the power to stop or abandon a match should racist incidents occur," the statement said.