Powar: Prandelli not the problem
Leading anti-racism campaigner Piara Powar has no issues with Cesare Prandelli despite his claim that Mario Balotelli had not racially abused.
Italy coach Prandelli angrily denied Balotelli had been targeted by Spain supporters during Sunday's 1-1 draw in Gdansk.
On Tuesday though, UEFA confirmed they were investigating alleged abuse, which had been drawn to their attention by monitors with the Spanish fans.
Powar knows Prandelli well and believes the robust denial came more through mis-information than any attempt to sweep the matter under the carpet.
"Prandelli is a decent guy, who supports a lot of progressive causes," said Powar.
"He is aware of the issues and 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.
Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) have also brought a couple of ultra-nationalist flags to UEFA's attention, whilst there have been other examples of xenophobic chanting or gestures that have scarred the competition.
"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.
"We have seen flags in Poland with swastikas on them, and Celtic crosses. Who are they aimed at? It is a very complex problem."
Nevertheless, if it means eastern Europe begins to confront such problems, Powar is glad the tournament ended up in the region.
"I didn't agree with the idea that Euro 2012 shouldn't come to Poland," he said.
"It is a fantastic country, very dynamic and growing economically.
"Obviously, Ukraine is not where you would want it to be and there are widespread human rights abuses.
"But you could say the same about China and in 2018 the World Cup will be held in Russia.
"If you start arguing against that you are going down a different road completely and where do you draw the line?"