Friday 22 September 2017

Andrew Gilligan: Why black football fans won’t be going to any of the Euro 2012 games in Ukraine

James McClean in action during Euro 2012 squad training. Photo: Sportsfile
James McClean in action during Euro 2012 squad training. Photo: Sportsfile

EMMANUEL Kanavanga is as assimilated into Ukrainian life as any black man ever gets. He has lived here since 1992, and now runs the Africa Centre, a group representing black people in Kiev. He has a white Ukrainian wife, mixed-race children, and many white Ukrainian friends. But even he says: "I would not go to a football match here on my own, not even if you gave me five million dollars."

That’s not the only place Mr Kanavanga can’t go. “I wouldn’t go on the metro in the evening,” he says. “One of my members has lived here for 15 years and has never been on the metro. He says, 'Do you want me to kill myself?’?”

When Mr Kanavanga does go out, he sticks to the city centre, and walks differently from a white person. “I go one, two, three metres, look to see who is coming for me,” he says. “Then I go another few metres. We are not moving like we’re free.”

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