Uefa admit Euro 2012 hosts Poland have 'huge image problem'

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The Independent Football

UEFA have admitted Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland face a "huge image problem" over their hooliganism.

Martin Kallen, UEFA's director of Euro 2012, said there are hooligan outbreaks at just about every league match in Poland, who are hosting the tournament with neighbours Ukraine, and 60 Polish fans were detained after throwing bottles, flares and benches at police during the friendly in Lithuania last week.

The Polish government have recently announced new laws to tackle football violence similar to legislation brought in by Germany for the 2006 World Cup.

Kallen told the Soccerex conference in Manchester: "On the hooligan side we are concerned but I know the Polish government is also concerned.

"They know they have a problem - they have a huge image problem. There are always hooligans around every match day in the league but the government is making the right steps for the future.

"What we saw at last Friday's match was not a very good picture to see that happening in a stadium. We and the Polish government are concerned. They are taking this seriously and will have changes in the next month."

Kallen said he was not overly concerned about the tournament itself as the problem was more linked to club matches.

He added: "For the Euro different people will be coming to matches - there will be more families. The Euro is a party and in many areas there is more a problem on a daily basis for club matches."

Marcin Herra, head of Poland 2012, insisted there would be "zero tolerance" for hooligans.

"The minority cannot spoil the event for the majority," he said. "In Poland the new legislation allows us to work much more precisely against those hooligans.

"There will be zero tolerance to make sure that 500 people cannot spoil the event for one million people."

Herra said the new laws allowed the police to speed up the process of arresting suspected hooligans and dealing with them in court. Fans also have to be part of a central database in order to buy tickets with potential troublemakers prevented from doing so.

Meanwhile, Kallen admitted some promises made by the host countries about infrastructure developments would not be able to be kept - mainly regarding road improvements.

But Kallen added that there was no danger of either Ukraine or Poland not hosting the tournament next year.

He said: "We have no other way. Each have to be ready in 2012."

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