Part of complete coverage on
Olisadebe: 'Racism in football is barbaric'
June 9, 2012 -- Updated 2120 GMT (0520 HKT)
- Former Poland star Emmanuel Olisadebe condemns racism in football
- Olisadebe became the first Poland player of African descent in 2000
- Members of the Dutch squad were subjected to abuse during a training session
- The Dutch Football Association will not issue a formal complaint
(CNN) -- A former star of the Polish national team has urged UEFA to confront the problem of racism that is threatening to overshadow Euro 2012.
Emmanuel Olisadebe was speaking to CNN following the alleged racist abuse directed at members of the Dutch squad during a training session on Wednesday in Krakow, which the Dutch Football Association have decided not to officially complain to UEFA about.
"I think it's barbaric, it's not right.," said Olisadebe. "Some people feel that European teams should have only white players playing for them, and this is a European competition and it should be only for white people.
Racism dominates Euro 2012 storylines
"This is 2012, we don't live in that kind of world anymore. We have to face this problem. It's a problem so we have to face it now or later and UEFA has decided to face it now and we will face it now."
The buildup to Euro 2012 - co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine - has been marred by a host of reports highlighting incidents of racial violence in the Eastern European nations.
The families of two of England's black players, Arsenal's Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Theo Walcott, will not be traveling to Ukraine and Poland, while Italy and Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli says he will walk off the pitch if he is targeted by racists.
The Nigeria-born striker was subjected to abuse when he first arrived at Polish club Polonia Warsaw in 1997, before becoming an icon by helping the team to their first league title in 50 years and spearheading his adopted country's qualification for the 2002 World Cup.
"It was really heavy on me," the 33-year-old Olisadebe. "I'd never experienced something like that in the games where they made these monkey noises and throw bananas at you.
"I also heard this from other black players in other teams, they experienced the same thing. And in Poland it's there, the racism in football, but I think it's everywhere. The same in Poland, the same everywhere else."
Ruud Gullit: Euros will confront racism
Euro racists face criminal sanctions
Schmeichel on Denmark's Euro glory
Olisadebe, who scored 11 goals in 25 games for Poland, struggled to deal with the abuse, which included people throwing bananas onto the field of play.
"It's really difficult to explain the feeling but it was depressing," said Olisadebe, who now plays in the Greek top flight for Veria FC.
"The first moment was really depressing. I just had to live with it and I'm still here today. I played for Poland and I don't regret anything. I look at it as part of life."
In 2000, Olisadebe became the first player of African heritage to represent Poland. He revealed how his teammates rallied behind him when he was the focus of racist taunts.
"I had a few bananas thrown at me in one or two games," he explained. "But afterwards my fellow teammates stood behind me and they voiced out that if you throw bananas on Emmanuel you do it everybody and you have to respect.
"They were behind me and after then it never happened again."
Part of complete coverage on
June 29, 2012 -- Updated 2226 GMT (0626 HKT)
Sunday's Euro 2012 final in Kiev pits holders Spain against Italy, between them the winners of the last two World Cups.
August 22, 2013 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Euro 2012: Images from 13th European Championships being held in Poland and Ukraine.
June 29, 2012 -- Updated 1447 GMT (2247 HKT)
Can English football reinvent its "warrior" style to emulate the success of freeflowing football nations such as Spain and Germany?
June 22, 2012 -- Updated 1202 GMT (2002 HKT)
The Germany-Greece quarterfinal at Euro 2012 is just one example of when political and sporting lines become blurred.
June 20, 2012 -- Updated 1601 GMT (0001 HKT)
CNN's panel of football experts look at the Euro 2012 contenders ahead of the quarterfinal stage.
With Euro 2012's group stage now over, CNN's Pedro Pinto picks out his highlights of the action in Poland and Ukraine.
June 19, 2012 -- Updated 1619 GMT (0019 HKT)
UEFA's decision to fine Nicklas Bendtner for revealing a sponsor's name on his underpants during Euro 2012 may have opened a can of worms.
CNN's Alex Thomas wonders how such an exciting football team as Spain could become, as heretical as it may seem to say... boring.
June 14, 2012 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
Fighting in the streets of Warsaw during the opening week of Euro 2012 is a stark reminder that football's "disease" has not been cured.
CNN's Amanda Davies argues that footballers are picked for their sporting ability, not because they can do justice to their national song.
June 8, 2012 -- Updated 1346 GMT (2146 HKT)
Poland kicked off Euro 2012 as one of the underdogs. It is a far cry from the days when the nation was one of the most feared teams in world soccer.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1759 GMT (0159 HKT)
Euro 2012 is almost upon us and Europe's finest footballers will be marked men -- in more ways than one.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1632 GMT (0032 HKT)
CNN World Sport looks at the challenges that teams and host countries Poland and Ukraine faced to get to the Euro 2012 cup.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1551 GMT (2351 HKT)
As national teams arrive in Poland and Ukraine, will the tournament be a football success or overshadowed by racism?
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1917 GMT (0317 HKT)
If the pre-vote predictions had been accurate, football heavyweights Italy would be preparing to host the 2012 European Championship.
CNN's Pedro Pinto predicts who will fly and who will flop at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Have your say here.
June 6, 2012 -- Updated 1734 GMT (0134 HKT)
Portugal have never won a major tournament at senior level, could this be the year the Euro 2012 underdogs shine?
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1859 GMT (0259 HKT)
Some of Europe's best footballers will be missing in Poland and Ukraine this month, as the effects of another grueling season takes its toll.
June 5, 2012 -- Updated 2040 GMT (0440 HKT)
Can defending European champions Spain retain their title in Poland and Ukraine? CNN's Pedro Pinto reports.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1902 GMT (0302 HKT)
Euro 2012 is nearly here and the 16 competing nations have announced the final 23-man squads.
June 22, 2012 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
Check out who is playing who, and where, as 16 teams compete at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.
June 7, 2012 -- Updated 1920 GMT (0320 HKT)
Euro 2012 hosts Ukraine and Poland have told CNN a documentary accusing fans from both nations of racism was "unbalanced and biased."
May 18, 2012 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
UEFA president Michel Platini tells CNN he thinks Chancellor Angela Merkel will attend the final of Euro 2012 in Ukraine -- if Germany reach it.
May 8, 2012 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
It was supposed to be a symbol of Ukraine's development, but next month's Euro 2012 tournament has become mired in controversy.
April 30, 2012 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
Poland and Ukraine will host the European Championships for the first time in 2012, welcoming 14 other teams and football fans from across the continent.
December 9, 2011 -- Updated 1652 GMT (0052 HKT)
The build-up to next year's finals has truly begun, so here is CNN's guide to our top 10 most memorable European Championship moments.
December 9, 2011 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
With less than 200 days to go until Euro 2012 football fans across Europe can start to look forward to the tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Today's five most popular stories