Italy boss Prandelli 'no racist'

LEADING anti-racism campaigner Piara Powar has no issues with Cesare Prandelli, even though the Italy coach claimed earlier this week Mario Balotelli had not been the subject of racist abuse.

Prandelli angrily denied Balotelli had been targeted by Spain supporters during Sunday's 1-1 draw in Gdansk.

Yesterday though, UEFA confirmed they were investigating alleged abuse, which had been drawn to their attention by monitors with the Spanish fans.

Powar, chief executive of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), knows Prandelli well and believes his denial came through misinformation.

"Prandelli is a decent guy, who supports a lot of progressive causes," said Powar.

"He is aware of the issues and is very open to the debate about them.

"The fact he didn't know, just highlights the difficulties.

"It does seem Russia are in denial to some extent but the fact those Spain fans admitted there was a problem shows we are moving forward."

Confirmation that issues at Euro 2012 go beyond skin colour came through the clashes surrounding Poland's draw with Russia in Warsaw last night.

FARE have also brought a couple of ultra-nationalist flags to UEFA's attention, while there have been other examples of xenophobic chanting or gestures.

"We only have to look at the abuse people from Poland and Romania have received on occasion in the United Kingdom to see how attitudes can harden," said FARE executive director Powar.

"In different areas it is not just about skin colour and Russia's relationship with Poland is a case in point."