Jerome Boateng and Sami Khedira aren't the guys who tend to make the headlines from the current Germany side, although the same cannot be said of Mesut Ozil. When Portugal take the field Pepe and even Nani always know they operate in the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Not the biggest names, then, but potentially at the centre of the very biggest of issues. They are the black players, or in Ozil's case one of Turkish descent, most vulnerable to racist abuse when Holland play Denmark and Germany face Portugal tonight. Euro 2012 is only two games old but will this tournament be remembered for football or for prejudice? Football is 1-0 down already in that respect, having been disfigured before a ball was kicked.
During an "open" training session in Krakow on Thursday night – 25,000 turned up for it – Holland's black players were racially abused by a group of around 500 Wislaw Krakow extremists supposedly unhappy that a foreign team was being allowed to use the club's facilities. Not that it matters what they were upset about. The chants kicked off as the Dutch players went on a two-lap jog around the pitch and were louder on the second circuit. Captain Mark van Bommel responded by telling his team to pick up their training kit, move to the other end of the pitch, and continue there. While others said nothing afterwards, and it went unreported in a few Dutch newspapers because some of the journalists claimed to be unaware of it, van Bommel called the episode "a real disgrace".
The Dutch FA, curiously sensitive about wider public sensitivities before the tournament was even underway, wanted to defuse the subject and it is understood that no formal complaint will be made. It was left to others to confront the ugliest of issues. Piara Powar, executive director of Football Against Racism in Europe, said: "Van Bommel has no reason to invent such a claim. We would side with Van Bommel. It's quite clear it happened. And if there's some confusion within the governing bodies, the KNVB [the Dutch FA] or UEFA, then that's regrettable. In our view, the incident took place. If the captain says: 'my team-mates were racially abused, I heard it, I was there at the ground level', then one expects any FA to back the captain. We're very clear with UEFA that any incident of this kind needs to be looked at."
Uefa's reaction was weak and depressing. On Thursday evening, it said it had "no plans" to investigate the incident because the information from the Dutch FA had been that the abuse was not racially motivated. They ignored Van Bommel, in other words. Not until yesterday – after widespread international criticism – did it backtrack and issue a statement saying: "UEFA has now been made aware that there were some isolated incidents of racist chanting that occurred at the open training session of the Dutch team. UEFA has not yet received any formal complaint from the KNVB."
"Isolated racist chanting"? "Not yet received any formal complaint"? Could they sound any more dismissive? Could they do any more to show they want to sweep this entire thing under the biggest carpet they can find? What happened to Zero Tolerance on Racism?
Racism threatens to blow UEFA's credibility apart this month, and few would be instinctively sympathetic if it does. They awarded the biggest international tournament they have to two countries, Poland and Ukraine, with known far-right, racist and hooliganism problems. That is going to look harder and harder to justify if the issue erupts. Society will no longer tolerated perceived "softness" towards racism but so far UEFA's comments on the issue have been anything but convincing. Even before having to be dragged kicking-and-screaming into an investigation of what happened at the Dutch training session they were mealy-mouthed about the prospect of players walking off the pitch if they are racially abused from the stands.
Michel Platini, the UEFA president, said referees had been instructed to call a halt to matches if a player was racially taunted. Fine, but in the next breath he warned that any player who left the field in protest – without the referee's approval – would be yellow carded. It's not down to a referee to determine when a black man has had enough racism.
Poland, Ukraine and Uefa would face a public relations catastrophe if even one victim of racial abuse walked off a pitch in protest this month. Players have been instructed that if they are unhappy about something they should alert the referee first of all. Any referee can stop a game where problems are obvious and withdraw the teams to the dressing rooms. He would then discuss the situation with the match director and messages would be played over the public address system. The ultimate decision would to abandon the game if the supporters continued to offend. Cue Euro 2012 in meltdown.
At least there can be an element of policing and control at the actual matches. What Thursday night showed was that black footballers simply training, or black supporters in Poland or Ukraine while their team competes at Euro 2012, could be targeted at any moment. And it showed something else: so far UEFA has not given the protection and condemnation any victim is entitled to expect.