Poland's tame Euro 2012 exit sparks infighting and the end of Smuda

Czech Republic 1 Poland 0

Wroclaw

Famous last-gasp defeats are a Polish tradition, whether in war or football, so there was little surprise at a 1-0 defeat to the Czech Republic that dumped them out of the Euro 2012 finals they have dreamed of holding for years.

It was not losing to Petr Jiracek's 72nd-minute goal that hurt but the tame way Franciszek Smuda's team – in stark contrast to their rousing comeback against Russia days earlier – went quietly into the night. After a hatful of chances in the first 15 minutes, they managed just three shots in the second half of what was billed as their biggest game in 30 years.

Two decades of toil has given Poles prosperity most could never have imagined under communism but football has not rewarded them in kind.

The 1970s and 1980s "golden generation" that produced Grzegorz Lato and Zbigniew Boniek has given way to a succession of average squads that have struggled to win games at major finals, never mind get out of the group.

That failure has fuelled the doubters in the country's post-1989 liberal revolution, who said something had gone awry with the national character along the way. There is a belief that Poles are too busy thinking about their own interests to unite for a common good and reaching the quarter-finals would have done much to counter that idea.

The captain Jakub Blaszczykowski launched the recriminations with the revelation that players were kept on tenterhooks over whether their families would get any tickets for Saturday's game.

He also said Smuda, who announced after the game that his contract would not be renewed, had gone too quickly and other commentators paid tribute to the coach, saying he remained the best Poland has.

The captain's ire was instead saved for Lato, a winner of the World Cup Golden Boot in 1974 and now the head of a much-criticised Football Association that still harks back to communist times. "If we want to head in the direction of professionalism, if we want our football to look like it does in other countries, we have to take examples from the best," Blaszczykowski said.

"The FA president says he has a good relationship with the team. I am not aware of that, because every time we establish something with him it completely is not held to. Many things are not done as they should be."

As late as noon on match-day, Blaszczykowski said, the players were still asking whether they would get tickets for the game before they were finally given two each.

"These are things that we as players, and in particular myself as captain, have the right to say and have to say," the midfielder said. "It can't be like that before each game that we have to beg the FA's president to give the tickets to our families. Everybody is getting them, only our families have these problems."

czech rep 1-0 poland

Goal: Czech Republic Jiracek 72. Subs: CR Rajtoral (Jiracek, 83), Rezek (Pilar, 87), Pekhart (Baros, 90). Pol Grosicki 6 (Polanski, 56), Brozek (Obraniak, 73), Mierzejewski (Murawski, 73). Booked: CR Limbersky, Plasil, Pekhart. Pol Murawski, Polanski, Wasilewski, Blazczykowski, Perquis. MoM Pilar. Match rating 7/10. Poss: CR 55%. Pol 45%. Att on target: CR 8. Pol 9. Ref C Thomson (Sco). Att 44,416.

 

Suggested Topics
News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
New Articles
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all