England to brave 'monkey chant' training ground in Krakow
Roy Hodgson's squad hope that racist abuse directed at Holland squad at Krakow stadium will not be repeated
ENGLAND hold their first public training session today in Poland amid fresh claims of racism from locals. The run-out will be staged at the team's training camp at Hutnik, in Krakow, the same southern city where the Dutch squad put on a show for spectators on Wednesday in what was "meant to promote goodwill with the city".
Instead, the Dutch have left town furious with the racist abuse directed towards the black members of their squad. According to the Guardian "several hundred people targeted players such as Nigel de Jong and Gregory van der Wiel" as the Holland squad were put through their paces at the Stadion Miejski, the home of local club Wisla Krakow.
The Sun claims the abuse, which began as the players warmed up, included monkey chants and at one point Dutch captain Mark van Bommel ordered his players to move to the other side of the ground to escape the appalling scenes.
It's alleged that following the training session, Van Bommel left the matter in the hands of Uefa and tournament organisers, but when it became apparent they were intent on brushing the whole affair under the carpet, the AC Milan midfielder went public to vent his fury.
Hours before the training session, the Holland squad had visited the Auschwitz concentration camp and Van Bommel told reporters: "It is a real disgrace especially after getting back from Auschwitz that you are confronted with this."
When it was suggested to the Dutchman that he might have been imagining the monkey chants, Van Bommel let rip: "You need to open your ears! If you did hear it, and don't want to hear it, that is even worse."
And with words that will send a chill down the collective spine of Uefa, Van Bommel promised that should it happen during the tournament "we will talk to the referee and ask him to take us off the field".
The captain received the support of his coach (who is also his father-in-law), Bert van Marwijk, who said with grim irony. "At least now we know what we can encounter. Very atmospheric."
The Guardian says that Uefa initially tried to pass off the abuse as just a chorus of light-hearted boos directed more at them than Holland's black players because "Krakow had not been made one of the host cities".
That didn't fool Van Bommel and it won't fool England should there be similar scenes today.