Euro 2012: Gdansk deputy mayor thanks residents for acting 'like civilized white people'
THE deputy mayor of Euro 2012 host city Gdansk has thanked the city's residents for behaving "like normal civilized white people" in a radio broadcast.
He later apologised for his choice of phrase in a local newspaper.
Irish fans were pouring into the Baltic port city today ahead of Thursday’s do-or-die clash with Spain.
Gdansk is one of four Polish cities hosting the 16-nation European Championship, along with four cities in Ukraine, and with race such a sensitive issue, Andrzej Bojanowski put his foot firmly in it during a radio interview.
"I thank residents and city employees for behaving like normal civilized white people toward our guests who have in turn also behaved like normal white people," Bojanowski, 40, said.
Bojanowski promptly followed up the controversial statement with an apology in the local edition of Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
"I apologise to anyone I may have hurt with the clumsy phrasing I used this morning in a live broadcast," he said. "I simply wanted to thank residents and guests, whatever the colour of their skin."
Krzysztof Jarymowicz, an official from the Polish Foundation for Freedom anti-racism organisation, said this was "an example of the extent to which stereotypes and xenophobia are rooted in the mentality and language" of Poland.
However, he added: "I'm certain that the deputy mayor of Gdansk had no ill will and that he used the phrase unconsciously."