18 maj 2011

A joke of a league

As season in Polish football is closing to an end and more we know how next year will look like, it must be said that this has been an unique one in simply almost every term there is. We had some great goals, fantastic performances, Lech did us proud in Europe, Wisła Krakow gives us hope for qualification to the Champions League and crowds were rising. Of course, there was a bad side as well – hooligans after Polish Cup final, closing stadiums for fans, boring games, awful performances in Europe and Polish national team… but it isn’t the worst thing. The bad news is that Polish football is becoming a joke.

Let’s have a look at recent decisions of closing stadiums, that are stupid and unnecessary itself; actions taken to prevent eruption of hooliganism inside the ground, after post Polish Cup final incidents involving hooligans of Lech and Legia. Stadium in Wrocław was very recently named the safest in Polish Ekstraklasa and, as a season ticket holder for years at Śląsk, I can’t recall any incident involving hooligans in recent years. But police decided otherwise – appealed to the Lower Silesia authorities that they cannot promise safety during football match and stadium should be closed. No matter that police isn’t responsible for what happens inside the ground, as clubs have to sign deals with security firms. Silly.

Not only stadiums of several clubs were closed (Lech’s new ground in Poznan was unsafe one week and then open for fans next despite that nothing changed), Ekstraklasa and Polish Football Federation forbidden  away fans from travelling to the games for the rest of the season – not only in top divisions but at every tier in Polish football! No matter how small club is, no matter that it will be friends and family that would like to watch their son/brother/mate play in 8th  league away game – if they are organized in a group, they can be stopped by police and handed stadium ban for every game in Poland. Absurd? Very much so.

But fans will do anything to watch their team play, not caring much what law says. Poles are masters in avoiding it and the stupider it gets, the better solutions they have. This wasn’t new idea but now we will witness it on a mass scale as group fans are not organizing trips for away games but to… sightsee the city in which their team plays. It may be old church, beautiful town square, market, motorcycles rally, a museum or anything else – only that they have scheduled free time exactly for the game in which every participant can do what he/she wants. Organizers are not suggesting anything but accidentally there is a match and anybody who wants can go there in unorganized group. Childish? Yes but who can blame them for wanting to watch their team plays?

This is not the end. Every season clubs have to gain license from Ekstraklasa to be able to play and mostly it is about stadium, finances and youth teams. Not getting too much into details, last week five Polish clubs failed to get those for next year and reasons that hit one of them were laughable. It is about Śląsk Wrocław again – Ekstraklasa pointed out that numbers on seats in away end are incomplete but that is not all. The other complains are about the exit fence that supposedly is too dark and should be painted in yellow, while subs benches are too short and players can’t sit straight in them. While it is obvious that disallowing club from playing in the league for the darkness of the fence is stupid, let’s hold on to the benches, just because it’s not Śląsk fault that they are not high enough – it is PFF idea that was proposed before Poland-Slovakia match that was held in Wrocław almost two years ago. And for last two seasons the license committee gave the paper to Śląsk without any complains, while fence was still black and benches were as high as they are now. Absurd? I think I don’t have to answer to this one.

I don’t even want to start talk about Polish national team because it’s an example of an inconsistency, mostly thanks to its most important person, coach Franciszek Smuda. Once he says he won’t ever call up player who was involved in match fixing scandal but then he defends Łukasz Piszczek, sentenced by court for committing to buy a game while he was Zagłębie Lubin player few years ago! Then he says that the fundamental thing for success of national team is strength of domestic league but he comes up with an idea to make a camp during last three league rounds for which he would take every player he wants, not caring much whether team still has something to play for. This man is a walking cliché, example of how create bad atmosphere around national team.

And this is real story of the season in Polish football. All the good things, all the fantastic stories, great performances, beautiful goals, talented players, wise managers will be overshadowed, along with important questions, mounting problems, issues that should be solved. Overshadowed by careless, stupid and simply laughable decisions of those who should stand over and care the most about the beautiful game in Poland. But the worst thing is that feeling, feeling that we can’t do nothing about it, that they live upon us and do what they want and finally, a feeling that we can only watch how this whole falls apart. Some say that the sooner it happens, the better.

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