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

Czech Republic 1 Poland 0


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
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk