Europe's most popular sporting event, the Uefa Euro 2012 football tournament, kicks off this weekend.
Football never fails to spark drama both on and off the pitch, and this tournament will not disappoint: the Italian team have already served up yet another corruption scandal. But sadly, this time it's altogether more serious problems – namely racism and human rights abuses – that are taking centre stage.
Euro 2012 is jointly hosted by Ukraine and Poland; both countries are keen to turn the event into a PR opportunity. But they've got off to a bad start – especially Ukraine.
Thanks to the Ukrainian regime's imprisonment of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who has staged a hunger strike in protest at her treatment, many European governments will boycott the event. German, French and now British leaders have said they will not show up, owing to "widespread concerns about selective justice and the rule of law in Ukraine". Other leaders, including EU president Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission chief José Manuel Barroso, are also staying away.
If that wasn't bad enough, a report by the BBC has exposed shocking examples of racism and violence among football fans in both countries. Their governments have tried to downplay the seriousness of this, but already members of the Dutch team have been subjected to racist abuse at their training ground in Krakow.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's parliament is scheduled to vote in two weeks' time on a bill that would make it illegal to say the word "gay" in public. Put these facts together, and you have a gravely worrying human rights situation.
This tournament must not be an opportunity for Ukraine to whitewash its human rights record, or for Poland to try and pretend it doesn't have a problem with racism.
The boycott by European leaders goes some way towards ensuring that it won't, and sends a strong diplomatic message.
But thousands of fans won't – and shouldn't – stay away. The presence of visitors from all over Europe and the wider world will expose Ukraine to a multitude of different cultures, races and creeds – and gives us the opportunity to shine a light on some of the things the Ukranian regime would rather keep quiet.
Let's not look away, but instead make sure that light shines brightly throughout the whole tournament.
Read more: Human Rights Watch has dug deep into human rights violations in Ukraine.