Blair weighs in on race debate, News shorts, Vol 8, No 41, Oct 28 - Nov 3
Before the [Euro 2004 qualifier] game [on October 12] we were in the Trafena Hus pub, which was full of English fans. There was a noisy Slovak minority present. The two sets of supporters were mingling, singing songs, shaking hands and buying each other drinks. Before and after the game we encountered no trouble at all. This is how I will remember that day, but unfortunately the media, particularly in England, has ensured that the match will be remembered differently.
Racism in football must be stamped out, of that there is no doubt. I feel the Slovak team was rather unfortunate to be playing England when it did, at a time when racism was very much in the media spotlight already. Sadly, I could name about eight other European countries where Heskey and Cole would have received the same or worse treatment. Without exception, the England fans that I spoke to had nothing but positive comments about Bratislava and Slovakia, and, despite the negative portayal by the media, will hopefully spread the word that the country, by and large, is a warm and friendly place to visit.