THE DEPUTY MAYOR of Euro 2012 host city Gdansk in northern Poland described the city’s residents as “normal civilised white people” in a radio broadcast Tuesday before apologising in a local newspaper.
“I thank residents and city employees for behaving like normal civilised white people toward our guests who have in turn also behaved like normal white people,” Andrzej Bojanowski, 40, said in the radio interview.
The Baltic port of Gdansk is one of four Polish cities hosting the 16-nation tournament; Ireland take on Spain in their second Group C game on Thursday night.
Bojanowski promptly followed up the controversial statement with an apology in the local edition of the liberal-minded Gazeta Wyborcza daily.
“I apologise to anyone I may have hurt with the clumsy phrasing I used this morning in a live broadcast. I simply wanted to thank residents and guests, whatever the colour of their skin,” he wrote.
An official from the Polish anti-racism Foundation for Freedom said this was “an example of the extent to which stereotypes and xenophobia are rooted in the mentality and language” of Poland.
“I’m certain that the deputy mayor of Gdansk had no ill will and that he used the phrase unconsciously,” foundation official Krzysztof Jarymowicz told Gazeta Wyborcza.