Euro 2012: Racist abuse, far-right flags at Russia match

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Racist abuse by Russian fans toward a Czech Republic player at a European Championship match was reported to UEFA on Saturday.

Expert spotters from the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network identified verbal insults targeted at Theodor Gebre Selassie, who is black, during Russia's 4-1 win on Friday in Wroclaw, Poland.

"There was some suggestion that the Czech defender went to take a corner and had a few problems," FARE executive director Piara Powar said.

Fans also displayed a nationalist ‘Russian Empire’ flag, which “we take as evidence of far-right sensibilities," Powar said in a telephone interview.

Film circulating online on Saturday also showed some Russian fans attacking stadium stewards after the match.

Four security personnel were treated in a hospital but were not badly injured, a Polish police spokesman said. Police are studying security video footage to identify fans involved.

UEFA said in a statement that ‘around 30 fans’ attacked the stewards, and ‘the situation was quickly and efficiently brought under control’.

The reported incidents came in the second match of Euro 2012, which kicked off on Friday amid concerns of potential racist incidents involving fans in co-host nations Poland and Ukraine.

However, Russia's fans are under scrutiny after UEFA linked up with FARE to appoint a 31-strong team of expert anti-discrimination spotters.

Two monitors, mingling with fans of each team at a match, will work to identify offensive banners, chants and behaviour in stadiums, and report to UEFA within 24 hours. Powar said FARE officials aimed to provide footage of Gebre Selassie being abused.

"We are trying to get that evidence, and it's not always possible to capture it on film," he said.

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