5 maj 2011

The day Polish football died

What followed Polish Cup final between Legia Warszawa and Lech Poznan was a disgrace, was something the least UEFA’s delegates wanted to see just over 400 days before Euro 2012 will kick off in Poland. But when authorities and government decides that closing stadiums is currently the only solution to the problems caused by hooligans – minority of almost 100 000 people that attends Ekstraklasa games each week – you know that football has died. Football is not regarded in Poland as thing for fans anymore.

Football is now scene of war between government and hooligans while normal fans will suffer, seating in their homes, unable to go and watch their team plays, win or lose. They won’t be allowed as authorities will close stadiums every time police will make an opinion that there is possibility of any dangerous accidents in and outside the ground. Which, to be perfectly clear, can happen in every city, at every game, every week. Not only in Poland.

When celebrations in Bydgoszcz after Polish Cup final were delayed by Lech hooligans fighting with police, everyone seem to agree that actions need to be taken, that solution to the problem that has not gone away need to be found. As quick as possible. But while it was a perfect time to sit down and debate, change law, finally kick hooligans out of the stadiums, government decided to prepare a demonstration, a show off. Government simply decided to play on stereotypes which say that every supporter is a hooligan.

Everyone’s guilty of what happened in Bydgoszcz – someone allowed the game to be played despite negative opinion of police; those who organized this game, allowed Legia fans to invade pitch straight after penalties; fans allowed silently people to represent them, that they never should be allowed of doing so; government for not fighting with the problem, presenting necessary laws. But the only ones who will suffer of mindless closing of stadiums after Tuesday’s scenes are real fans and I cannot resist the feeling that the battle against hooliganism has suffered another defeat.

What will be next? It must be said that even though those organizing protests against media and government at Polish Cup final lost their place at the debate table (more about it here), prime minister with his suggestions that stadiums should be closed each time police will think there might be any danger give them their voice back. Unnecessarily, as supporters groups united in one association proved they cannot be trusted ever again.

Why now police claims that Legia stadium is not safe, when it was last week? Why they have claims things has to change, when they had not any objections to it in recent months? They don’t even try to hide the fact that it is a revenge and punishment for hooligans that devastated stadium in Bydgoszcz. Punishment that is not and never will be a solution, rather will further hurt normal fans up to the point where they will refuse to go to the stadium.

Prime minister Donald Tusk said that they will be closing stadiums after every accident, every time police will claim there might be problems. It is very hard to understand how he expects situation to solve itself when grounds will be empty – does he wants and expects normal fans to kick hooligans from stands by themselves? Or will his government give clubs a proper law, law that will be executed later by police and courts, which is simply not happening now? If he wants to use closing stadiums as the only way to solve hooliganism problem in Poland, then he will kill football, league and chances that level of the beautiful game gets anywhere near the forty millions country deserves it to be.

This is very sad day indeed. Donald Tusk, a football fan himself, is attending Lechia Gdansk games himself almost every week – something he never hide and rather was very proud of, keen to share with publicity. Why then he simply cannot understand how wrong he is assuming that his idea, horrible show off, will solve anything? This actions put media, fans, supporters groups, even authorities in several cities against him. Mind, with elections just in few months time he lost many, many votes of those that less cared about politics but more about football. People like me, normal fans. People that were hurt by those who seemed to be involved but not understand simple rule of the beautiful game – that it is for the fans in the first place.

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