Racist banner exhibited at Lithuania-France Euro 2008 qualifier30 March 2007

During the match Lithuania-France (March 24th, qualifying match for Euro 2008), a racist banner was shown by Lithuanian supporters.
It was opened out after the national anthems, and was directed against the French black players. It represented a map of Africa, painted with the French flag colors (blue, white and red), and the slogan was: “Welcome to Europe”, written in French.

“The police are taking this shameful incident very seriously. Our federation faces up to 30,000 Swiss francs in fines from UEFA,” said Lithuanian soccer federation president Liutaras Varanavicius.

“Somebody may have thought this was witty, but it's just outrageous. Those who did it wanted to humiliate France's black players, who make up the majority of the team,” Varanavicius added.

France coach Raymond Domenech called the banner “scandalous and shameful.”

The Lithuanian federation has posted a request for any information regarding the incident on its website and has received some leads, Varanavicius said.

“There is an investigation under way, and that's good,” said Domenech at France's training camp outside Paris. “We are all behind it, so that it's the real culprits who are punished – those who made the banner and who showed it, not the federation or the club each time.”

Domenech called for more action against racism in soccer.

“We have to do something,”he said. “We can't go on like this, when we see what is happening everywhere.”

The French Football Association President, Jean-Pierre Escalettes, said it was “unacceptable” and UEFA are expected to take action shortly.