Racism overshadows semi-final preparations
By Iain Rogers
(Reuters) - Racism again cast a shadow over Euro 2012 on Tuesday, providing an unwelcome distraction from the soccer as Spain and Portugal and Germany and Italy prepared to do battle for a place in Sunday's final in Kiev.
UEFA said it had opened disciplinary proceedings against the Spanish football federation (RFEF) and the Russian football union (RFS) for alleged racist behavior and chanting by fans.
European soccer's governing body also fined the Croatian football federation (HNS) 30,000 euros ($37,400) after supporters set off and threw fireworks and displayed "inappropriate and racist banners" during a match against Spain, their second racism-related sanction of the tournament.
The issue of racism dominated the build-up to Euro 2012, which is being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine and is the biggest sporting event in eastern Europe since the collapse of communism.
There were fears that fans from the host nations would cause problems but supporters of other teams have mainly been to blame, with UEFA taking its time to review evidence and act even with Russia and Croatia long gone from the tournament.
Amid the latest controversy, the four semi-finalists were making final preparations for Wednesday's clash between Portugal and Spain in Donetsk and Thursday's meeting between Germany and Italy in Warsaw.
Neutrals are hoping the heavyweight quartet, featuring talents of the caliber of Cristiano Ronaldo, Andres Iniesta, Mesut Ozil and Andrea Pirlo, will serve up more exciting fare than some of the uninspiring games have offered so far.
BORING SPAIN Continued...