Poland: Scandal over police mistreating away fans in Warsaw

source: StadiumDB.com; author: michał

Poland: Scandal over police mistreating away fans in Warsaw They were deprived of their civil rights and haven't seen their team's game despite arriving at the stadium on time. Scandalous treatment of supporters caused Górnik Zabrze to intervene in every instance possible.


Before last Friday's game between league favourites Legia Warszawa and Poland's most honoured club Górnik Zabrze fans of the latter travelled over 300km (some 185 miles) by leased train to Warsaw. Their transport had a 30 minute delay, but it was still enough to get them at Stadion Wojska Polskiego some 2 hours before the game.

The 1,300-people strong contingent caused no trouble along the way, nor did they misbehave once on site. Legia had prepared only 2 turnstiles to serve the 1,300 people, making entering the stadium in time for the first whistle a challenge.

However, that wasn't possible at all as police at the spot decided – without informing anyone at the away club beforehand or in fact without any justification – that the security measures have to be tighter than normally. They established a 'bottleneck' and only allowed 10 people at a time to get to the turnstiles, keeping all the rest tightly herded. Once there, fans were searched extremely thoroughly, having to take off their shoes, among other. As they claim, security were unprepared, making even ID checks a problem.

With tension among the away crowd growing over time, fans started loudly demanding for the staff to work faster. This only resulted in police using tear gas against people, including a 10-year-old boy. Worth mentioning, Legia were reported not to have medical service in place for those affected.

As a result, according to Górnik's security chief overlooking the procedures, during almost 2 hours only 240 people were able to enter the away section. With every entering fan spending 1 minute at the turnstile, the whole group would be let inside... around dawn the next day!

This is why those inside decided to leave the stadium in protest against what they and their colleagues had to endure. The game was about to begin at that time, but it was clear that security and police will not allow everyone inside in time for them to see the game.

The group thus decided to stay outside and support their club with chants from that spot. In solidarity with Górnik's supporters, Legia's fanatic stand Żyleta remained quiet for the first 10 minutes of the game, only chanting “Football for the fans” occasionally.

To make it more ironic, fans were denied to bring flags or paper tifo inside the stadium, as it was described as potentially dangerous by security personnel of Legia – flags may be used to cover people's faces for pyrotechnics lighting, while paper is... flammable.

After the game Górnik Zabrze published a very bold statement, identifying the police as responsible for all tensions and fans being deprived of their basic rights. Below we present selected pieces of the statement:

Having arrived in Warsaw, fans were transported with buses from Warszawa Zachodnia train station to the vicinity of Legia's stadium. Once outside their buses, they were immediately surrounded by police forces. Police officers were impeding movement towards the entry gate, only releasing small groups […]. Loud protest of those herded by police led to escalation from the police subdivision and use of coercive measures against fans […].

Game against Legia was a regular mass event. Our fans have planned their trip and in an organised manner, without incidents, arrived at the stadium. The inexplicable escalation by police forces not only made attending the game impossible for our fans, but also compromised the guarantees of Polish FA that more fan-friendly approach is to be implemented […].

In a joint statement after Deputy Chief Commissioner's meeting with FA president we read that police had no negative remarks after first games this spring. So how will one explain to us and our fans the event in which 900 police officers completely prevented fans from entering the stadium?

Górnik has demanded explanations from Chief Commissioner and asked PZPN (Polish FA), Ekstraklasa SA (league governing body) and the national Ombudsman to analyse Friday's events and provide thorough, impartial evaluation.