Holland manager Bert van Marwijk and captain Mark van Bommel last night refused to dwell on the racist abuse allegedly suffered by black members of the squad during a training session in Krakow ahead of the curtain going up yesterday on Euro 2012.
Van Marwijk appeared keen to draw a line under the incident which apparently saw his players subjected to monkey chants at Wisla Krakow’s Miejski Stadium on Wednesday.
He and van Bommel– who on Thursday branded the incident “a disgrace” – merely repeated what was already known, the former confirming he had not heard the alleged abuse and the latter reiterating he himself definitely had.
“The whole group heard it,” van Bommel said after arriving in Kharkiv, Ukraine, ahead of today’s Euro 2012 Group B opener against Denmark.
Van Marwijk added: “I didn’t hear anything racist in nature but there were some players who did, including the one sat next to me.”
Neither spoke about the possible implications of the incident, which was finally acknowledged yesterday by both UEFA and the Dutch Football Association.
Having been satisfied by the Dutch FA’s initial assurances the abuse was not racially motivated, UEFA announced yesterday morning they had been made aware of “isolated incidents of racist chanting” and promised a crackdown.
European football’s governing body confirmed they would consider increasing the number of stewards at open training sessions in order to eject fans if there was a repeat.
They said in a statement: “Should such behaviour happen at further training sessions, UEFA would evaluate the operational measures to be taken to protect the players.
“UEFA has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to discriminatory behaviour and has given the power to referees to stop matches in case of any repeated racist behaviour.”
It is understood UEFA’s statement followed lobbying from the FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) network.
The Dutch FA issued their own statement yesterday afternoon confirming some of their players heard “possible monkey chants”.
They added: “Although KNVB will not make an official complaint to UEFA, they are more than willing to answer questions of UEFA in this respect.”
FARE chief executive Piara Powar called on teams to play their ‘open’ training sessions behind closed doors if necessary.
He said: “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.”
Holland winger Ibrahim Afellay, who is black, said: “The only thing that you can say is that there are more madmen roaming than trapped. When you’re a footballer, you must be strong, because you hear it all the time – when you enter the pitch, when you take a throw-in, or when you take a corner.”
Former Holland star Ruud Gullit, now a UEFA representative, said yesterday: “Everybody was very, very upset”.
UEFA had been satisfied on Thursday by claims the abusive chanting from the stands was actually a protest against the fact Krakow had not been made one of the host cities for Euro 2012.