Let’s hand it to BBC Panorama: whether we like their portrayal of racism amongst Polish/Ukrianian football fans or not, they sure know how to generate a debate. This is a particularly tricky as well as touchy subject. On the one hand there has been criticism of the programme that it caricatured the problem, giving the impression travelling to Eastern Europe would be like stepping back into the Third Reich. Also, as mentioned in my last blog – and not to excuse it in the least – there’s definitely an element within Polish/Ukrainian football thuggery, maybe a large one, that utilises anti-semitic abuse for effect rather than out of deep-seated prejudice to Jews. On the other hand, whatever the motivation, it’s unacceptable to be racist, and this has been going on certainly in Poland – the country I know best of the two – for too long. I remember strolling past the old Cracovia stadium with my then fiancee Marzena back in 1995, and her telling me that had it been the footie season, we’d have had to watch our backs as the fans were pretty hard core. So that was 17 years ago. Some of the many bloggers in the two days since Panorama was shown have suggested Poland has concentrated too much on the stadiums and other infrastructure needed for Euro 2012 and not enough on clamping down on the racism/hooliganism amongst fans. I think that has to be right. In UK we had terrible football hooliganism in the 70s, but it was addressed. To be fair, it took time, so we should be careful how we judge others. If the Poles stamp out the unacceptable behaviour quickly from now on, encouraged to act by the spotlight that has been shone on them, this will be a result. As for Ukraine, many bloggers have said they’re a worse case. Again, that seems to be right, but the same medicine can work i.e. the introduction and enforcement of stringent anti-racism/hooliganism laws. Not, by the way, some risible police chief colonel claiming large numbers of racist fans giving the Nazi salute were simply choosing to point in the same direction!