Fans at the Metalist stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine, will “wave racism goodbye” at the Holland-Germany match on Wednesday night. Thousands of white handkerchiefs will be handed out to the 35,000 capacity crowd, made up of Dutch, German and Ukrainian football enthusiasts.
Those who didn’t receive one are called upon to get out their white handkerchiefs, socks, knickers or bras right after the national anthems are played and wave them for five minutes as a protest against racism and homophobia.
“This is not just about Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland and Ukraine, where both racism and homophobia are rife”, says Jurriaan Bakker, one of the organisers of the flash-mob protest.
“It’s a global problem which we have to tackle. Doing nothing means you’re part of the problem. And we hope that this type of action will be copied at other major sporting events this summer. The symbolism of those hankies fits in with waving away negative sentiments in football stadiums. We also hope that it can defuse the old tensions and rivalry between Oranje and Germany, with current generations saying farewell to those negative sentiments.”
Co-organiser and TV personality Barbara Barend told Radio Netherlands Worldwide:
"We think we just need to use events like these to raise awareness in all countries where coloured and gay people face aggresssion. It’s all about showing new generations learn that tolerance is much more developed in other parts of the world.”
The action is supported by various Dutch TV stars, writers, artists and football players including Stanley Menzo, Winston Bogarde, Erwin Olaf, Humberto Tan, and Ronald de Boer.
It was inspired by the BBC programm "Stadiums of Hate" and comes on the heels of media reports about alleged monkey chants at a recent Holland training practice in Krakow, Poland. UEFA has launched an investigation into these reports, which according to local officials are based on a misinterpretation of ritual chants by hard-core Wisla Krakow fans.