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Platini urged to take a stand against trafficking

Catherine has written to UEFA President Michel Platini in an effort to encourage the Euro 2012 organisers to raise awareness of sex trafficking ahead of this summer's tournament...

"Dear Mr Platini,

Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine is an opportunity to showcase football as well as the diverse communities in our continent to the rest of the world.

Europe will be in the spotlight and UEFA should be commended for launching its RESPECT football and social responsibility campaign, including taking major steps to tackle racism in the game.

However, I believe it is turning a blind eye to a vile trade which will be fuelled by the summer's football tournament.

Put simply: UEFA is not doing enough to raise awareness of the number of women and children who will be forced into prostitution, as thousands of football supporters head to the two countries.

There is evidence to show major sporting events can fuel an increase in the number of people trafficked into the sex industry and many NGOs have suggested Poland and Ukraine will not be any different.

Greece experienced a rise in the number of additional brothels opened in the run up to the 2004 Olympic games in Athens and 'mega-brothels' were installed in cities hosting games at the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

I echo the thoughts of Myria Vassiliadou, the EU's anti-trafficking coordinator, who last year said "sporting events are a hub for criminal gangs" and insisted "we want to see awareness-raising when it comes to sporting events."

I am spearheading a campaign to make sure organisers of the London Olympics do as much as possible to curb sex trafficking and it is vital UEFA also makes a public stand to clampdown on the problem at the Euros.

What action has UEFA taken to raise awareness of the problem, both in the host countries and in those from which supporters will be travelling?

Earlier this year, I called on the European Commission to work with UEFA to highlight the problem. I have also welcomed the work carried about by companies such as Eurostar in training their staff to pay attention to the tell-tale signs of trafficking.

This summer is a massive year for sport in Europe and millions of people will enjoy Euro 2012. But there is a far seedier side, which we cannot ignore.

As I said to the European Commission last year: we must make sure such a great event is not tarnished by this vile trade.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Catherine Bearder MEP"

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