Polish FA chief apologises for hooliganism
Wednesday 08 June 2011
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.
Latest in Sport
Andy Murray tells how coach Amélie Mauresmo revealed her pregnancy
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: The biggest fight of all time, or maybe just the most lucrative?
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Everton 3 Manchester United 0 player ratings: Who scored lower - Marouane Fellaini or Radamel Falcao?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
- 2 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 3 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 4 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 Ian Brady: Moors murderer announces his support for Ukip and the SNP
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove