Polish FA chief apologises for hooliganism

Polish FA chief and former striker Grzegorz Lato apologised today for a spate of hooliganism among fans and said he was sure measures now in place would prevent trouble when they co-host Euro 2012.

Polish fans were detained in Lithuania in March after throwing bottles, flares and benches at police before and during a friendly match which Poland lost 2-0.



Last month, police in the Polish town of Bydgoszcz deployed water cannon against fans who invaded the pitch and damaged the stands after Legia Warsaw won the Polish Cup 5-4 on penalties against Lech Poznan.



"We are shocked by the hooliganism. I never experienced anything like that when I was playing. It was something that never happened," Lato, top scorer at the 1974 World Cup with seven goals, told a news conference.



"I would like to apologise to our Lithuanian friends," he said during a visit to Warsaw by top Uefa officials one year ahead of the tournament which Poland will co-host with Ukraine.



"We have very good fans. Please remember what they were like in Germany (during the 2006 World Cup) and in Austria and Switzerland (during Euro 2008) when they were great in spite of our results.



"I hope that next year in Poland they will be like the 12th player on the pitch," added Lato, who played in the 1974, 1978 and 1982 World Cups and has headed the Polish FA since 2008.



Football hooliganism has become an important political issue ahead of October's national elections in Poland and Prime Minister Donald Tusk, a keen soccer fan, has signalled a tougher stance against the troublemakers.



Polish authorities last month ordered several teams to play behind closed doors as part of the new crackdown.



"There are measures in place to stop this from happening again. I am sure that at Euro 2012 Polish people will be sitting next to English fans or Greeks or Spaniards and there will be no problem with hooliganism," Lato said.



Uefa's general secretary Gianni Infantino echoed Lato's optimism.



"As far as hooliganism and crowd trouble are concerned, England had this problem for many years and have more or less eradicated it through the work of the government and the authorities," he said.



"I am convinced that the same thing will be happening in Poland to stop this being a problem at Euro 2012."



Infantino, who also visited Ukraine earlier this week, played down delays in the building of Polish stadiums and roads.



"There have been a few hiccups along the way. A few delays, however, in the development do not alter our faith in this project," he told reporters.



"We believe Poland will be ready, Ukraine will be ready, we have absolutely no doubts about that."



Asked about delays in completing a stretch of motorway outside Warsaw that will help link the Polish capital to Germany, Infantino said: "That is not a problem. Poland is already connected to the rest of Europe, it is part of Europe."



On Tuesday, Poland's top audit agency said delays in updating Poland's dilapidated transport infrastructure threatened its ability to successfully host the Euro 2012 tournament.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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.

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high