Forearmed and Forewarned

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 27, 2015 18:43

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Forearmed and Forewarned

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 23rd 2012)

Hindsight

It is 20/20. While, it did not take genius or even clairvoyance to foresee that Russia versus Poland was going to be a very highly charged match with policing issues to match, were there things that could have been done differently to prevent the Battle of Warsaw as it has been called?

The Chief Constable of Wielkopolska Regional Police, Inspector Krzysztof Jarosz thinks not. “Polish police prepared a few thousand officers to serve only in Warsaw,” he said. “6000 police officers were deployed to policing Poland Russia match. All media encouraged people to behave appropriately.”

Krzystof Jarosz 3

He is clear where the fault lies. “Our police officers tried to deal with all troublesome situations from the very beginning so they would not spread out, but when we talk about Warsaw some groups of hooligans from both countries arrived in the city with only one aim – to start idiotic and ridiculous riots,” Jarosz said. “Frankly it is not an easy issue; it’s quite a sophisticated process, so it was only one incident – one major incident and if you count all the matches which have been played so far during EURO 2012 we can still estimate this event as a safe one.”

Fielding the Storm

Many criticised holding the match on Russia’s National Day, but Sport and Tourism Minister Joanna Mucha had no truck with that notion. “[Changing] the date of match was absolutely out of question,” she said without explaining why it could not have been delayed until the following afternoon for example. “Hooligan incidents happen everywhere. We are trying to do anything we can to take appropriate actions if it happens.”

Former Polish Sports Minister Joanna Mucha (Centre)

Former Polish Sports Minister Joanna Mucha (Centre)

So ccould the ugly scenes that marred the aftermath of a 1-1 draw that ultimately helped eliminate both teams, have been avoided? “I have not used the word success,” Interior Minister Jacek Cichocki said regarding the operation to police that match. “My definition of success is the same as yours [no arrests and no hospitalisations]. I positively evaluated the work of the police. We had liaised with Germans, Swiss and colleagues with UK. Fast track procedures were implemented to combat it [hooliganism]. Police officers are in contact with supporters. We had very good cooperation with Police from several countries and fans. I would like to thank them for that cooperation. They have been very helpful in providing information.”

Safe Options

Last year Empower-Sport covered the Under-20 World Cup in Colombia. It was a very safe even that passed without incident. Jarosz was not aware of the importance of that competition for policing. “We didn’t talk to Colombian police” he said. “We didn’t focus our activity on collecting experiences from North of America or South of America.”

CIMG0230

They have had contact from South America though. “When we talk about Euro 2012 which is being organised now, a few days ago, I had a visit from representatives of São Paulo city, where in 2014 they will organize the World Cup,” Jarosz said. “I confirm that Brazilians are interested to bring their police to Poznań and take advantage of our experience and support them in their efforts to prepare World Cup 2014 as a safe event. This means that they thought our event had been prepared very well.”

The FARC which had been conducting guerrilla insurgency since 1964 recognized that attacking the Under-20 World Cup would be counter-productive and did not. Nevertheless Colombian police took no chances with the safety of visitors, providing advice and even escorts and more in my case on occasion, as my schedule could potentially have been problematic. They made sure it wasn’t.

This interested Jarosz.

CIMG0031

“Your information about Under 20 World Cup in Colombia is really interesting and if you say it was in your opinion the safest competition you have ever been at, then it is certainly worth having closer look at it,” Jarosz concluded.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar May 27, 2015 18:43
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