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Euro 2012 Soccer Showdown Brings Booze Fears

The 16-nation tournament starting today is dubbed "a firecracker waiting to go off."


The party will hopefully be remembered for
the right reasons. Photo via

By Will Godfrey


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Euro 2012—the biggest international soccer tournament since 2010's World Cup—kicks off today, with 16 nations contesting a trophy that was last claimed by Spain in 2008. But as the competitionco-hosted by Poland and Ukraine—begins, many fingers will be crossed that drunkenness doesn't make an unwanted intrusion. Violent fans have long posed a threat, but the behavior and drinking habits of some of the playersand even of Ukrainian policewill also be heavily scrutinized by nervous officials. England's Roy Hodgson is one coach to have laid down the law; he warned his players, whose tournament base is in the Polish party city of Krakow, "I will demand you behave as adults and I will demand that every time you are in a public place, you must not let anyone down." The tough line follows embarrassing dwarf- and drink-related scandal involving England players at last year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Concerns over local policing are more sinister: “As if ultra-right football hooligans weren't enough to contend with," says Amnesty International's Ukraine campaigner Max Tucker, "visitors will need to be on the lookout for a corrupt and brutal police force known to target individuals because of their skin color. In one recent case, police pulled over an ethnic Azerbaijani and drunkenly beat him with batons for several hours while shouting racial abuse at him." The police are rarely held accountable, he continues: "Add high passions and alcohol to the mix and you have a firecracker waiting to go off."

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