Make no mistake about it, the "exposé" of racism and anti-Semitism in Ukraine and Poland was probably the most watched bit of British-produced TV to be screened in these parts in recent weeks, certainly more so than the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
The reaction was fairly straightforward. We're not like that. You found a minority of lunatics and weirdos, stuck a camera in front of them and invited them to perform. And they obliged.
Michel Platini, the Uefa president, effectively echoed those comments, suggesting that racism was everywhere and that they could have filmed similar documentaries in France or England. That might have been a bit much, but Platini does have a point: these folks like nothing more than a platform.
Would those Wisla Kraków fans who showed up at Holland's training session to make monkey noises at the players have bothered to do so if we hadn't ratcheted up the hunt for racist abuse?
Indeed would Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie have become the victim of monkey chants during his country's European Championship defeat against Russia in the opening match of the competition as is claimed by Fare (Football Against Racism in Europe).
Who knows? But what became clear is that, after the initial headlines from the Dutch incident, everyone seemed to be backtracking. In fact, by Saturday, the line was that the abuse may not have been racist at all, and, indeed, not directed at the Dutch, but at Polish authorities who didn't make Kraków one of the host cities. Mark van Bommel, the Holland captain, said he heard it and it was definitely racist. Bert van Marwijk, the Holland manager (who also happens to be van Bommel's father-in-law) said he didn't hear anything racist in nature.
Still, it was as good a reason as any for Uefa to condemn racism and remind everyone of their "zero tolerance" policy. Which, of course, the usual suspects continue to sneer at. Witness the reaction to Platini's statement that a player who is racially abused and, in protest, walks off the pitch without the referee's permission will be booked. The Uefa president, naturally, was ridiculed for it. And he could have worded his answer better. But the fact remains: Uefa have a clear procedure for dealing with racist abuse. If a player is abused, he tells the referee. If the officials hear it, then the match is stopped.
A clearly impatient Platini failed to get this basic point across. Instead, he got caught up in the fairly childish line of questioning and ended up saying – with a liberal interpretation – that a player who is racially insulted would suffer a double indignity: a yellow card to go with the abuse he receives on the pitch.
A bit of common sense would come in handy here. Let Uefa apply their rules in their grounds. And if they don't, give them both barrels. But, at the same time, don't invite the scum to come out from under their rocks just so you can film them and throw their antics in everyone's face. The last thing we need is copycat racist idiocy.
WITH racism on the front burner, we almost forgot about that "other" problem: hooliganism. In Wroclaw, four stewards were hospitalised after being attacked by a group of Russian supporters following their team's 4-1 win over the Czechs on Friday. Helpfully, video of this vicious beating is already doing the rounds on the web. One version has been turned into "hooligan porn" with some fool providing excited commentary of the beatdown. That same night, Russian and Ukrainian fans clashed at the fan zone in Lviv. This time the excuse was the waving of the nationalist Russian Imperial flag.
Uefa said these were "isolated incidents" and praised the response of police and ambulance staff. On Tuesday night Russia face Poland in Warsaw and there is plenty of recent history – on and off the pitch – to suggest it could get feisty. Not coincidentally, a number of restaurants and bars near the Soviet-built Palace of Culture, home to the Warsaw fan zone and just over the river from the National Stadium, have hired security for the evening. Others aren't opening at all. Not quite what the organisers had in mind.
THE thing about judging an assistant manager is that, from the outside, you really have very little idea what he actually does.
Where does his input end and where does the manager's begin?
It's the eternal conundrum faced by all those who make the leap from number two to number one.
The case of Steve Clarke, appointed last week to take over at West Bromwich Albion is a perfect example. The former Scotland defender worked as an assistant to Ruud Gullit, Sir Bobby Robson, Jose Mourinho, Gianfranco Zola and Kenny Dalglish and has generally drawn rave reviews. The inference is that, if all these great minds wanted him on board, he must be good.
This is one case where results can be easily manipulated and only tell part of the story. It's basically a question of hearsay, reputation and second-hand information. Which doesn't mean Clarke is a bad appointment, by any stretch. It just means that West Brom necessarily had to look beyond his track record and into a whole set of other qualities to make their decision.