Outside the Box: Poles make strong case for pot calling the kettle black


Imagine an overseas TV crew filming the behaviour of West Ham fans at Tottenham last weekend and using it to illustrate the state of English football.

Arrests for Nazi salutes, gas chamber noises, chants about Hitler, etc; and three recent race cases would doubtless feature prominently. In Poland and Ukraine they remember how Panorama made just such a film, called Stadiums of Hate, shown a few days before last summer's European Championship, in which England supporters were advised not to travel to the tournament and Sol Campbell suggested that some who did could "come back in a coffin".

Now the football boot would appear to be on the other foot. According to the London-based journalist Robert Blaszczak, "Poles still feel hurt with the allegations made prior to the Euros. With an overwhelmingly positive feedback afterwards, most notably from the English correspondents in 'Polkraine', no one stepped up and admitted: 'We called that wrong'. Those England supporters who travelled to Warsaw last month, despite the unfortunate incident with the roof, certainly enjoyed a warm and cheerful reception. It was what they missed out on when not making it to the semis last June. This may offer a reminder to put one's own house in order first before pointing fingers at others."

Hammered and wrong

Eyal Berkovic, now a media pundit back home in Israel, says those fans of West Ham, his former club, who are guilty of anti-Semitic abuse should be sent to prison.

"It shouldn't be happening in 2012 and people that did it need to be in jail or outside of football," he told Outside the Box. "West Ham supporters are great supporters but they need to remember that Jewish players like myself and Yossi Benayoun have played for the club."

The Israeli FA and Uefa are confident about the European Under-21 Championship next summer going ahead as planned despite recent hostilities. Israel's FA president, Avraham Luzon, keen to send out the right message, insisted Maccabi Tel Aviv's home game with Bnei Yehuda at one of the four venues went ahead as planned despite the concerns of Maccabi's management after air-raid sirens sounded 35 minutes before kick-off.

Beckham the long Ranger

David Beckham has insisted that despite leaving LA Galaxy, "My commitment to the MLS and the Galaxy won't change, I still want to grow the sport in this country [the US]".

Mrs Beckham may have been spotted looking at mansions in south-west London lately but that commitment would be difficult to maintain as a Queens Park Rangers player, even if they do train near Heathrow. Encouragingly for the Galaxy, who played the MLS Cup final at home to Houston late last night, Beckham has always left his clubs as champions. He signed off with a goal at Everton on the final day of the 2002-03 season as Manchester United took the Premier League. Four years later, he played a part in Real Madrid's La Liga triumph, albeit not at the finish; they were 1-0 down in the last match against Mallorca when he was injured early on, making way for Jose Antonio Reyes, who scored twice to secure the title.

No-go blow for Zico

There is wretched news for the splendidly named Ryan-Zico Black, featured here recently after being invited to play in his namesake Zico's annual charity match in Brazil.

The Guernsey midfielder has been forced to pull out after breaking his leg in two places in an FA Vase match away to Erith Town. The game was held up for an hour before an ambulance arrived, and the only consolation for Black was that his team came from 3-0 down to win 4-3 in extra time.

Guernsey, competing in the Vase for the first time, will be at home to another Erith side, Erith & Belvedere, in the next round on Saturday.

s.tongue@independent.co.uk; twitter.com/@stevetongue