Arsenal to provide stewarding expertise for Euro 2012

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The Independent Football

Arsenal are playing a major role in trying to ensure Euro 2012 passes off peacefully by providing stewarding expertise to the Polish football authorities.

After an outbreak of trouble in the country, the Polish government has passed a succession of new laws aimed at trying to restore order in stadia.

However, they admit to worries about the potential for violence during next summer's European Championships, when the eyes of the world will be on the former communist state, who are co-hosting the competition with Ukraine.

Parliamentary under-secretary for state Tomasz Polgrabski is not convinced the problem will ever completely be combated, if only because he feels pan-European action is required for an issue that affects the entire continent.

Improvements can be made though, one of which has involved Arsenal providing stewarding expertise.

"Our FA has signed a contract with Arsenal," confirmed Polgrabski.

"Our staff went to Arsenal to learn how to teach the stewards. Now we have a programme to implement and are producing better stewards who are well qualified and are capable of dealing with matters as they arise."

The Polish authorities were forced to ban away supporters from stadia following running battles between supporters from Legia Warsaw and Lech Poznan during the Polish Cup final last month, which led to the arrest of 26 fans.

It has also been claimed hooligans have organised themselves into groups whose activities range from organising fights with rivals in forests to dealing drugs.

Poland's cash-strapped clubs have been unable to deal with the problem themselves, which has forced the government to step in.

"It is a worry," said Polgrabski.

"We are paying a lot of attention in this area and are treating this problem seriously.

"The government has already closed some stadiums and we want to convince clubs to help us fight against hooliganism.

"We have passed some laws and are looking at other solutions like not being able to put things on that cover your face. If you do that, you can be arrested.

"We will work together with the police and the secret service but it is not a problem that we can ever solve and feel it has gone away because it is not only in Poland, but all over Europe."

Polgrabski pointed to the violence that flared during Millwall's Championship encounter with Middlesbrough at the New Den in February, plus other countries that have experienced trouble recently.

"I read in the paper a couple of months ago that some fans got onto the pitch in England. Look at the situation in Italy, Bosnia, Serbia. Things happen. We should deal with it systematically and constantly."

Poland are desperate for the tournament to pass off peacefully as they believe it would mark their full integration into Europe, over two decades after the fall of communism.

"Polish people have changed their mind," said Polgrabski.

"When we won the race to host Euro 2012, most Polish people didn't think we would prepare well. Now, 75% think we are organising a good tournament.

"When it ends and the people around Europe say it was amazing, then we can say we are part of Europe, we are the same as Germany and Great Britain."