UEFA Confirms "Monkey Chant" Aimed at Black Dutch Players

The telling thing about the ugly racial taunting that took place during an open training session yesterday isn't that it happened. Indeed, based on recent history the facts aren't even particularly surprising:

The Dutch began their workout at the Stadion Miejski, which is the home pitch for Wisla Krakow, with a couple of warmup laps of the field.

On the first lap, as they passed the fan seating, there was a smattering of what was described as "monkey noises" coming from a group of local fans.

On the second lap, by some reports, as many as 500 fans had joined in.

At that point, Dutch Captain (and AC Milan midfielder) Mark van Bommel instructed his team to move to the far side of the field, away from the stands, and practice resumed, but van Bommel was left steaming, telling the media afterwards:

"It is a real disgrace especially after getting back from Auschwitz [the Dutch squad had visited the concentration camp on Wednesday] that you are confronted with this,"

"We will take it up with Uefa and if it happens at a match we will talk to the referee and ask him to take us off the field."

Dutch Coach Bert Coach Van Marwijk added:

"At least now we know what we can encounter. Very atmospheric."

As I said, the facts - sad as they are - aren't what's most interesting about the incident.

Rather, it's how the various governing bodies reacted to it.

Officials from the Dutch Federation (KNVB) initially claimed that nothing of the sort had happened, and found a couple of willing media types who agreed with them.

That angered van Bommel even more and he made it fairly clear that he thinks they were lying:

"You need to open your ears. If you did hear it, and don't want to hear it, that is even worse."

For their part, UEFA also initially denied that the incident occurred, issuing a statement saying that it was not "monkey chanting" the players heard but rather a "small group" of local fans who were protesting the fact that Krakow was not chosen to host matches.

Later in the day, under increasing pressure from the media, UEFA changed their story, saying:

"Uefa has now been made aware that there were some isolated incidents of racist chanting that occurred at the open training session of the Dutch team."

They added, however, that the KNVB had not as yet filed either a report or a formal complaint.

They could have added: "Nor are they likely to if they know what's good for them". Indeed, reports indicate that Dutch officials consider the matter "closed", which is an interesting approach to an incident which they have still not bothered to admit.

The chief executive of FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe), Piara Powar, told the media:

"Van Bommel has no reason to invent such a claim. It's quite clear it happened.

"And if there's some confusion within the governing bodies, the KNVB or Uefa, then that's regrettable. In our view, the incident took place."

"If the captain says, 'My team-mates were racially abused, I heard it, I was there at the ground level', then one expects any FA to back the captain."

Powar later added:

"Public displays of intolerance like this - xenophobia, anti-semitism and racism - can't be allowed to go on.

"If that means playing behind closed doors and closing down that whole open-training system then I think that needs to be done."

If they weren't previously, everyone is now watching UEFA closely for signs of how they really intend to handle these types of incidents.

Based on their initial "There's nothing to see here" attitude, don't be terribly surprised if they continue to run and hide from the truth.

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