The Real Problem

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 15, 2015 16:39

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The Real Problem

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 27th 2012)

Police Perception

Legia Fans 1

Poles do not believe that they are a racist people and my experiences here over the last three weeks supports that view. There are many who are concerned about hooliganism. Among them is Inspector Krzysztof Jarosz, the Chief Constable of the Wielkopolska Regional Police, which was responsible for policing Poznań during the Euro2012 tournament.

“I think that Euro2012 is a very good opportunity for Poland to be promoted as a safe country where journalists can witness that the atmosphere in the stadiums is absolutely fantastic,” Jarosz told us exclusively. “Fans support their teams from the bottom of their hearts and very rarely do we witness fighting between them. They who fight should not be named fans they are just football hooligans for example like in the game between Poland and Russia.”

The Bad Old Days

Krzystof Jarosz 2

But Jarosz concedes that it was a serious problem previously. “We witnessed more problems with football hooligans during Polish league matches when fans had a hostile attitude to each other,” he said. “Flares were being thrown in the stadiums and they didn’t listen to or follow orders that were given by security stewards and attempts to cause riots between rival fans of the clubs after the game were taking place.”

Legia Stadium

It was a problem, but Jarosz believes that even on hooliganism the tide began to turn a couple of years ago. “Such situations lasted up to 2010, but starting from then up to now the Polish government together with the police decided to say ‘no’ and put up a fight against such attitudes,” he said. “As a result many hooligans were stopped. They were sentenced with very high fines and thanks to this we managed to control this issue.”

There are still problems dealing with even the convicted louts in terms of prevention strategies. “Those who have got a football ban and where the judge decided that on the same day, they have to report at the police station,” Jarosz says. “In such cases they have to do it and follow the judge’s order.” But there is a problem. “Not all football hooligans who are sentenced have to report at the police station on match day.”

Only Football

Krzystof Jarosz 3

Jarosz makes an interesting point. Polish people love a variety of sports, ranging from speedway to boxing to volleyball and of course football. But hooliganism is confined. “When we talk about sport in general you will easily notice that it’s football as an event which attracts the biggest number of hooligans,” he says. “When you talk about volleyball, handball, speedway, basketball you just cannot find hooligans. The mentioned sports events have a fantastic atmosphere in Poland.”

So football alone has the problem. “It is only football, where people – well some of them – try to make problems and that’s the place where hooligans mix together,” says Jarosz. “When we talk about football let me say the same behaviour that we have got in Poland, you can witness in England and Germany as well as in other countries. I must admit it’s really interesting why it is only football that produces so much emotion.”

Lessons

CIMG8632

He points out that he observed an incident of football-related violence abroad, but reports it very fairly. “Last year in September a Welsh supporter was killed during European Championship qualifier game between England and Wales,” he said.“Wembley is really a fantastic stadium, where I could see how policing was carried out in a professional way but still a murder was committed just in front of the stadium”.

Jarosz was upset and disappointed for England and the FA. “We were very shocked, taking into consideration that it’s the English police and English Football Association who were the first and did so much in football to prevent hooliganism”, he said. “It’s really annoying – maybe annoying is the wrong word – it concerns me that it could happen in England. I’m a little bit concerned about it.”

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar June 15, 2015 16:39
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