Racism still clouds Euro 2012 at business end

07:28, Jun 27 2012
Euro 2012 knockout matches
Vaclav Pilar of Czech Republic goes past the challenge from Pepe of Portugal during their quarter-final match.
Euro 2012 knockout matches
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scores the winning goal with a header past Petr Cech of Czech Republic during their quarter-final match.
Euro 2012 knockout matches
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scores the winning goal with a header past Petr Cech of Czech Republic during their quarter final-match.
Euro 2012 knockout matches
Cristiano Ronaldo of Portugal scores the winning goal with a header past Petr Cech of Czech Republic during their quarter-final match.
Euro 2012 knockout matches
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after defeating Czech Republic in their quarter-final match.
Euro 2012 knockout matches
an Rezek of Czech Republic and Pepe of Portugal battle for the ball during their quarter-final match.
Euro 2012 knockout matches
Czech Republic's goalkeeper Petr Cech makes a save during their quarter-final match against Portugal.
Euro 2012 knockout matches
Czech Republic's Milan Baros, left, fights for the ball with Portugal's Joao Moutinho during their quarter-final match.
Euro 2012 knockout matches
Czech Republic's Tomas Hubschman jumps for the ball next to Portugal's Miguel Veloso during their quarter-final match.
Germany v Greece
Marco Reus of Germany celebrates scoring their fourth goal against Greece with Mesut Ozil.
Germany v Greece
Greece's Giorgos Samaras fights for the ball with Germany's Jerome Boateng.
Germany v Greece
Greece fans wave a giant flag in the crowd as their team took on Germany in the quarter-finals.
Germany v Greece
Germany's Sami Khedira (6) scores a goal during their quarter-final match against Greece.
Germany v Greece
Giorgos Samaras celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal in their quarter-final loss to Germany.
Spain v France
Spain's Xabi Alonso high-fives Santi Cazorla after scoring their second goal against France.
Spain v France
Adil Rami of France battles with Pedro of Spain during their Euro 2012 quarter-final.
Spain v France
Laurent Koscielny of France in action as Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas of Spain look on.
Spain v France
Samir Nasri of France is surrounded by Spanish players during his side's 2-0 loss in the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
Spain v France
French fans cheer for their side during the quarter-final against Spain.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Italian players react after winning the penalty shoot out against England.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon makes the decisive save of a penalty attempt by England's Ashley Cole.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is mobbed by team-mates after England were beaten in their Euro 2012 quarter-final.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
England captain Steven Gerrard is despondent after his team bowed out of Euro 2012 in the quarter-finals following a penalty shootout against Italy.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and final penalty-taker Alessandro Diamanti celebrate after winning the penalty shootout against England.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Devastation pervades the England ranks following their Euro 2012 quarter-final loss to Italy.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Spain players celebrate victory after winning their semi-final match against Portugal, which ended in a penalty shootout.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Sergio Ramos of Spain scores a penalty past Rui Patrício of Portugal during their semi-final match.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Bruno Alves of Portugal hits the post from the penalty spot during their semi-final match against Spain.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Cesc Fabregas of Spain scores the winning penalty past Rui Patrício of Portugal during their semi-final match.
Euro 2012 - Italy v England
Cesc Fabregas of Spain scores the winning penalty past Rui Patrício of Portugal during their semi-final match.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
Mario Balotelli (R) celebrates his second goal for Italy.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
A team-mate congratulates Mario Balotelli after his first goal for Italy in their 2-1 semi-final defeat of Germany at Euro 2012.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
A young Italian fan roars his approval.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
Mario Balotelli heads home the opening goal for Italy.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
Italian fans celebrate at an outdoor screening in Milan.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
Italy's Federico Balzaretti rejoices after their defeat of Germany in the Euro 2012 semi-finals.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
A German fan tries to roar his team on during their semi-final loss to Italy.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
Germany's Memut Osil after his team bowed out of Euro 2012.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
Germany's players are downcast following their Euro 2012 semi-final exit.
Euro 2012 semi-final - Italy v Germany
Italian striker Mario Balotelli strikes a pose after his second goal.

Racism has again cast a shadow over Euro 2012, providing an unwelcome distraction from the football as Spain and Portugal and Germany and Italy prepared to do battle for a place in the final in Kiev.

UEFA said it had opened disciplinary proceedings against the Spanish football federation (RFEF) and the Russian football union (RFS) for alleged racist behaviour and chanting by fans.

The cases were to be dealt with on Friday (NZT).

Alan Dzagoev
Alan Dzagoev celebrates scoring Russia's third goal in their pool A 4-1 win agasint Russia.
Jan Rezek
Jan Rezek of Czech Republic and Konstantin Zyryanov of Russia clash.
Czech Republic
Czech Republic's Theodor Gebre Selassie (L) and Czech Republic's Roman Hubnik (R) react after losing 4-1 against Russia.
Vaclav Pilar
Vaclav Pilar of Czech Republic scores their only goal in the 4-1 loss to Russia.
Wojciech Szczesny
Wojciech Szczesny of Poland fails to stop Dimitris Salpigidis of Greece score the equalising goal during their Euro 2012 opener.
Kyriakos Papadopoulos
Greece's Kyriakos Papadopoulos stretches to kick the ball in the group A against with Poland.
Wojciech Szczesny
Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo of Spain shows a red card to Poland's goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
Poland v Greece
Lukasz Piszczek of Poland and Giorgos Samaras of Greece battle for the ball.
Germany
Germany's Mats Hummels heads the ball with Portugal's Silvestre Varela as Nelson Oliveira and Cristiano Ronaldo look on.
Euro 2012
Portugal's Bruno Alves attacks Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Euro 2012
German fans celebrate their side's goal with a smoke bomb.
Euro 2012
Germany's Jerome Boateng challenges Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo.
Euro 2012
Dejected Netherlands fans after their side's 1-0 upset loss to Denmark.
Euro 2012
Goal scorer Michael Krohn-Dehli and Nicklas Bendtner react after their win over the Netherlands.
Euro 2012
Nicklas Bendtner is challenged by the Netherlands' John Heitinga in their Group B clash.
Giorgio Chiellini and Alvaro Arbeloa
Italy's Giorgio Chiellini and Spain's Alvaro Arbeloa compete for the ball in their Group C match in Gdansk.
Xabi Alonson and Christian Maggio
Italy's Christain Maggio makes a slide tackle on Spain's Xabi Alonso.
Mario Balotelli
Italian striker Mario Balotelli is warned by the referee.
Antonio di Natale
Antonio di Natale of Italy scores past Spain goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Shay Given
Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given buries his head after the ball rebound off the post and onto his head for Croatia's last goal.
Ireland fans
Dejected Ireland fans seat in the stands after their team's 3-1 loss to Croatia in Poznan.
Mario Mandzukic
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic celebrates his goal in the 3-1 victory over Ireland.
Gordon Schildenfeld
Croatian goalkeeper Gordon Schildenfeld leaps high to make a save against Ireland.
Artem Milevskiy and Sweden's Anders Svensson
Ukraine's Artem Milevskiy (left) and Sweden's Anders Svensson battle for possession during their Group D match.
Oleg Blokhin
Ukrainian coach Oleg Blokhin reacts at the final whistle in the victory over Sweden.
Andriy Shevchenko
Andriy Shevchenko heads his second goal past the Swedish defender at the near-post.
Andriy Shevchenko
Andriy Shevchenko boots a stray ball in celebration after his second goal.
Ukraine fans
The home fans in Kiev had the perfect Euro 2012 opener with a 2-1 victory of Sweden.
Ukraine fans
Ukraine's goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov (left) looks on as Sweden's Olof Mellberg gets a shot away in front of Oleh Gusev.
England fans
Two face-painted England fans during their team's Euro 2012 opener against France.
Glen Johnson and Frank Ribery
England's Glen Johnson and France's Frank Ribery collide during their Group D match.
Joleon Lescott
Joleon Lescott heads in England's 30th minute goal against France.
Samir Nasri
France's Samir Nasri quiets the England fans with an equalising goal.
Euro 2012
Czech Republic's Tomas Sivok celebrates their defeat of Greece.
Euro 2012
Czech Republic's Tomas Sivok tugs on the jersey of Greek counterpart Fanis Gekas.
Euro 2012
A Greek fan looks dejected after his side lost to the Czech Republic.
Euro 2012
The Kiev fan zone is a popular spot to watch the Euro 2012 match between Greece and the Czech Republic.
Euro 2012
Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski is congratulated by team-mates after his equalising goal against Russia.
Euro 2012
Russia's Alan Dzagoev and Poland's Rafal Murawski contest possession during their Euro 2012 match.
Euro 2012
Polish riot police stand guard during the Euro 2012 match between Poland and Russia in Warsaw.
Euro 2012
Polish riot police stand guard during the Euro 2012 match between Poland and Russia in Warsaw.
Euro 2012
Nicklas Bendtner of Denmark beats Pepe of Portugal to head in their second goal. Portugal won the group B match 3-2.
Euro 2012
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo (L) is challenged by Denmark's Simon Kjaer in their group B clash.
Euro 2012
Portugal's goalkeeper Rui Patricio looks at the ball after conceding a goal by Denmark's Nicklas Bendtner.
Euro 2012
Dancers perform before group B match between Denmark and Portugal at the New Lviv stadium in Lviv.
Euro 2012
A Netherlands' fan reacts at the end of their group B 2-1 loss to Germany.
Euro 2012
Dirk Kuyt of the Netherlands clashes with Sami Khedira of Germany in their group B match.
Euro 2012
Netherlands' goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg looks at the ball as Germany's Mats Hummels sends it over the goal.
Euro 2012
Germany's Mario Gomez scores a goal against Netherlands in their 2-1 win.
Euro 2012
An Italian fan has mixed emotions following his country's 1-1 draw with Croatia.
Euro 2012
Italy's Riccardo Montolivo (top) and Croatia's Ivan Rakitic contest possession.
Euro 2012
Croatian player Ognjen Vukojevic flinches after supporters threw a flare onto the field during their Euro 2012 match against Italy.
Euro 2012
Italy's Giorgio Chiellini (L) and Croatian Mario Mandzukic are in pain after a collison during their Euro 2012 game.
Euro 2012
Spanish fans are smiling during their 4-0 rout of Ireland at Euro 2012.
Euro 2012
Spanish striker Fernando Torres celebrates his second goal during the 4-0 rout of Ireland at Euro 2012.
Euro 2012
Irish fans seek divine intervention during their team's loss to Spain at Euro 2012.
Euro 2012
Double goalscorer Fernando Torres of Spain leaps over Ireland goalkeeper Shay Given.
Ukraine France gallery
Yevhen Selin of Ukraine and Yevhen Khacheridi put pressure on Jeremy Menez of France as the rain pours down in Donetsk.
Ukraine France gallery
A view of the Donbass Arena in Donetsk during the game between Ukraine and France.
Euro 2012 gallery
Danny Welbeck (left) and Andy Carroll of England celebrate their team's winning goal against Sweden.
Ukraine France gallery
Frank Ribery of France controls the ball under close attention from Taras Mykhalyk of Ukraine.
Euro 2012 gallery
Danny Welbeck scores the winner for England against Sweden.
Euro 2012 gallery
Olof Mellberg (centre) scores Sweden's second goal.
Euro 2012 gallery
Andreas Granqvist of Sweden is tackled by Andy Carroll of England.
Theo Walcott gallery
Theo Walcott celebrates England's win over Sweden in their Euro 2012 group game.
Giorgos Karagounis
Giorgos Karagounis of Greece reacts after being yellow-carded for diving during his team's game against Russia.
Euro 2012
Greece players celebrate scoring the opening goal in their game against Russia.
Fernando Santos
Greece's manager Fernando Santos gets animated on the sidelines during his team's game against Russia.
Euro 2012
Theofanis Gekas of Greece falls under the challenge by Aleksey Berezutskiy of Russia.
Michal Bilek
Czech Republic manager Michal Bilek barks out instructions to his team during their game against Poland.
Euro 2012
Robert Lewandowski (right) of Poland tackles Theodor Gebre Selassie of Czech Republic.
Euro 2012
Polish fans take in the atmosphere at the the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw during their team's game against the Czech Republic.
Euro 2012
Eugen Polanski of Poland brings down Vaclav Pilar of Czech Republic
Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates scoring Portugal's second goal against the Netherlands.
Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo scores Portugal's second goal past Martin Stekelenburg of the Netherlands.
Euro 2012
Wesley Sneijder (left) of Netherlands reacts as referee Nicola Rizzoli signals for a foul on Pepe of Portugal.
Euro 2012
Portugal fans get behind their team during the game against the Netherlands.
Euro 2012
Nigel de Jong of the Netherlands clears the ball in front of Raul Meireles of Portugal.
Euro 2012
Germany celebrate their victory over Denmark.
Euro 2012
German fans celebrate their team's win over Denmark.
Euro 2012
Lars Bender celebrates scoring the winner for Germany in their game against Denmark.
Euro 2012
Denmark's Daniel Agger reacts after his team's loss to Germany.
Euro 2012
A Denmark fan takes in the atmosphere prior to his team's game against Germany.
Euro 2012
A Spain supporter holds her dog before watching the Group C match against Croatia.
Euro 2012
Italy's Federico Balzaretti (L), Antonio Di Natale (2ndL), goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon and Antonio Cassano (R) celebrate their victory over Ireland.
Euro 2012
Spain's Jesus Navas celebrates with his team mates after scoring a goal against Croatia.
Euro 2012
Italy's goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon reacts after their victory against Ireland.
Euro 2012
Italy's Mario Balotelli scores a goal past Ireland's John O'Shea.
Euro 2012
Italy's Daniele De Rossi falls over Ireland's Kevin Doyle during their Group C match in Poznan.
Euro 2012
Irish supporters react as they watch the Euro 2012 match between Italy and Ireland at a fan zone in Poznan.
Euro 2012
Croatia's Vedran Corluka challenges Spain's David Silva.
Euro 2012
Croatia's Ivan Rakitic (L) fails to score past Spain's goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Euro 2012
Ukraine coach Oleg Blokhin remonstrates with an official after an apparent goal wasn't awarded against England.
Euro 2012
A Ukraine fan is in good spirits ahead of their Euro 2012 match against England.
Euro 2012
An England fan expresses the thoughts of a nation before his team beat Ukraine in their Euro 2012 pool match.
Euro 2012
Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the decisive goal for England against Ukraine in their final Euro 2012 pool match.
Euro 2012
Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the decisive goal for England against Ukraine in their final Euro 2012 pool match.
Euro 2012
Swedish fans make their way to the Euro 2012 match between France and Sweden.
Euro 2012
Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the process of scoring the first goal against France.
Euro 2012
Another angle on Zlatan Ibrahimovic's opening goal for Sweden against France.
Euro 2012
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is mobbed by team-mates after opening the scoring for Sweden against France.
Euro 2012
John Terry scrambles the ball clear for England, controversially denying Ukraine a goal in their Euro 2012 match.

European soccer's governing body also fined the Croatian football federation (HNS) 30,000 euros ($37,400) after supporters set off and threw fireworks and displayed "inappropriate and racist banners" during a match against Spain, their second racism-related sanction of the tournament.

Croatia were fined 80,000 euros for racist chants directed at Italy striker Mario Balotelli by their fans in Poznan on June 14.

UEFA has been gathering evidence following reports that Spanish fans racially abused Balotelli during Spain's 1-1 draw with Italy four days earlier.

Advertisement

Euro 2012 fans
A Swedish fan.
Euro 2012 fans
A Swedish fan.
Euro 2012 fans
England fans.
Euro 2012 fans
An England fan wears an oversized England shirt.
Euro 2012 fans
An Ireland fan.
Euro 2012 fans
An Ireland fan.
Euro 2012 fans
An Ireland fan.
Euro 2012 fans
Netherlands fans.
Euro 2012 fans
A Netherlands fan.
Euro 2012 fans
Italy fans.
Euro 2012 fans
Poland fans.
Euro 2012 fans
A German fan.
Euro 2012 fans
A Netherlands fan.
Euro 2012 fans
A Netherlands fan.
Euro 2012 fans
Greece fans.

Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie, the first black player to represent the Czech national team, told reporters he had "noticed" racist chants directed at him during his side's game with Russia.

The issue of racism dominated the build-up to Euro 2012, which is being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and is the biggest sporting event in eastern Europe since the collapse of communism.

There were fears that fans from the host nations would cause problems but supporters of other teams have mainly been to blame, with UEFA taking its time to review evidence and act even with Russia and Croatia long gone from the tournament.

Euro 2012 racism
SECURITY BOLSTERED: Riot police stand guard in Kiev at an area where crowds gather to watch Euro 2012 football matches.

Amid the latest controversy, the four semi-finalists were making final preparations for tomorrow's (NZT) clash between Portugal and Spain in Donetsk and the meeting between Germany and Italy in Warsaw 24 hours later.

Neutrals are hoping the heavyweight quartet, featuring talents of the calibre of Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta, Mesut Ozil and Andrea Pirlo, will serve up more exciting fare than some of the uninspiring games have offered so far.

BORING SPAIN

Holders Spain, in particular, have been accused of playing boring football, although they will not mind further criticism if they manage to keep Portugal captain Ronaldo quiet and get past their Iberian neighbours.

Playmaker Iniesta said Spain's short-passing possession method, which has yielded a European Championship and World Cup triumph, is not about to be ditched simply because some believe it is not entertaining.

"We have our own style, our own game which has brought us success," he told a news conference.

"We can't forget that a few years back we changed the history of Spanish football, nor can we forget the way that we did it."

The man likely to be tasked with stopping Ronaldo, right back Alvaro Arbeloa, had no illusions about the size of the task facing him.

"I know how hard it will be to stop him for 90 minutes, but it will be a beautiful challenge for me," said the right back, who plays with Ronaldo at Spanish champions Real Madrid.

"We all know how well he is playing at these Euros," added the former Liverpool man. "It is very hard to play against him, he is very confident, he is playing very well, but we will try to stop him."

GLOWING ENDORSEMENT

Germany, who lost 1-0 to Spain in the final of Euro 2008, will be looking to Bastian Schweinsteiger to nullify the threat posed by Italy's standout player Pirlo if Germany are to beat the Italians at a major championship for the first time.

Schweinsteiger will almost certainly start against Italy after receiving unequivocal backing from coach Joachim Loew despite a niggling ankle injury.

The holding midfielder, who was sidelined for a couple of days before returning to training on Monday, has yet to peak at Euro 2012 and has struggled with his movement and speed.

"Obviously he can do things better than against Greece (in the 4-2 quarter-final win) but we need Bastian," Loew told reporters.

"He is an emotional leader for us. He has matured unbelievably in the last three years or so. I think it is important for our team when Bastian Schweinsteiger is there."

The Germans lost an entertaining World Cup semi-final to eventual victors Italy on home soil in 2006 but are favourites to progress this time having won all four of their matches.

Injured Italy players Daniele De Rossi, Ignazio Abate and Giorgio Chiellini are undergoing intensive physiotherapy to try to be fit for Thursday's game.

Team doctor Enrico Castellacci refused to rule any of the three in or out on Tuesday, even remaining cautious on Chiellini's chances despite the centre back training normally after a thigh problem.

Reuters