The wound is still open and the salt has been thrown in it as the pain could be felt by thousands of fans. Polish football in last two decades was the core of the corruption and it was so well hidden and so well known at the same time, that arresting hundreds of people and kicking them out of the game could be even not enough to come clear. As we have learned over the weekend, domestic referees are poor but the problem is that their every mistake spark allegations over corruption. Not that they didn’t deserve this, though the saddest thing is that no one seems to know who to believe anymore.
But it’s not only a question of trust. After all, police and public prosecutor caught almost six hundred officials, referees, managers and players, while fans were led to believe that there is no more corruption cancer left in Ekstraklasa, as others are simply scared that their environment is now so well researched, known by authorities. This was the evidence on which the league and clubs could build new future, new reputation, new name and more or less cross out what happened in last decades. But it’s coming back to haunt them as referees are still making mistakes and people tend to connect them with fixing procedure, not poor level. Especially when they come in such large numbers as they did in last four days.
This weekend was indeed the special one, with mistakes happening in almost every game. Debatable penalty given to Podbeskidzie thanks to which they won their game with Cracovia on Friday. Then on Saturday, Paweł Buzała’s second goal for GKS Belchatow against Slask Wroclaw came from two yard offside and left visitors in position of no return in that match. Just two hours later Polonia Warszawa fans were chanting “thief” at the referee who gave Górnik an equalizer despite clear handball from Nakoulma who controlled the ball just before scoring in the added time.
Not enough? On Saturday, Tomasz Frankowski, Ekstraklasa’s most experienced striker was so angry at the officials in Wisła Krakow 3-1 Jagiellonia game that he clearly said in his interview that he felt this game was played 14 vs 11 men. Jaga’s goalkeeper was clearly fouled in 80th minute when Biton equalized the score as hapless Wisła was on the way to lose another game. They came back and won, in a manner that should embarrass them. Sunday was actually calmer in Ekstraklasa but problems came back on Monday when in Łódź derby Piotr Grzelczak was unnecessarily sent off for hosts as ŁKS took advantage over Widzew and scored soon after this accident. Eight games, five scores decided by mistakes. And it’s not all.
The controversies were sparked even before the first ball was kicked after international break as one of referees, Mr Rostkowski claimed to be pushed through fitness tests last winter, when he even couldn’t take them, due to sickness. This is important, as someone’s decision to help him and one other official was sent to UEFA as they are both internationals. This “someone” was the chief of referees departments at PZPN, Mr Eksztajn and when Rostkowski and Siejewicz wanted to take the tests anyway, he just told them to keep it to themselves or he will degrade them straight off. Rostkowski couldn’t hold it though, as he asked prosecutor for a meeting where he revealed the truth. He was indeed degraded as PZPN decided not to comment on the situation and just let it be forgotten.
This case was unveiled in Gazeta Wyborcza week ago but the most staggering article was published on Thursday when Rafał Stec, recognized journalist, also author of the book about the aforementioned cancer, said that his source inside the league said long before the last league round of 2010/2011 season that strugglers from Cracovia will be safe – “over the whole spring, it wouldn’t make any sense but, as my informer said, when you looked at referees marks after each game, it could be clearly seen that one team is favored” wrote Stec. These marks are unfortunately secret but journalist seems pretty confident he is right – “Even if we made an assumption that what happened last spring was purely accidental and the source is unreliable, what Eksztajn did last week showed us that our football is still a scam indeed.”
That, also with latest incidents in Ekstraklasa, sparked the debate whether Polish league is clean of corruption and we can clearly see how everyone separate in two divisions. The first claim that mistakes come only from weakness of our officials and this is the fault of Polish FA, as their selection and training system is purely accidental and in a big mess. The latter is full of everyone who claims that there is maybe no big mafia as there was couple of years ago, but players, coaches and other unnamed forces are fixing the games for own profits from gambling, while poor opinion of Polish referees and situation at FA headquarters only helps them in hiding that under the carpet.
The reaction after Friday’s and Saturday’s mistakes from football authorities was rather nervous one, not completely calm. Top referees were called and probably had to face some critique from own bosses, even few of them came out in public to explain their decisions or simply say that they are sorry and confirm mistakes were purely coincidental. But it is doubted by everyone that Polish FA will care to find a solution, even if the evidences that one is needed are so clear nowadays – either to the problem of poor officiating or corruption problem that may still be inside the game. To be fair, it must be said that the cancer wasn’t cut out completely, there are stories of people that were involved in match fixing all over the country, still in the game. If something will not be done soon, certain phrase may come to reality, once again – the surgery was a success, but the patient died.