The offence of “persistent standing” is being introduced in Poland. When Legia Warszawa began executing it recently, they faced an entire stadium standing persistently for 90 minutes!
Theoretically “persistent standing” is nothing new in Poland. It was introduced in 2013 throughout the Ekstraklasa as an offence against matchday regulations. As all clubs, Legia Warszawa have a paragraph banning any persistent standing in sections outside of Żyleta, the northern terrace.
But when theory meets practice it turns implementing this regulation isn’t easy at all. Just like in post-Taylor England many fans simply prefer to stand and with Poland’s very traditional fanbases this group seems to be dominating the stands.
While stewards at Wisła Kraków or Lech Poznań’s less vibrant stands manage to persuade fans into sitting, in Warsaw this hasn’t been the case as much. In recent weeks stewards were addressing fans standing persistently at Stadion Wojska Polskiego, but this wasn’t met with enthusiasm.
Ahead of yesterday’s classic between Legia and Wisła the Warsaw club appealed to fans outside Żyleta to simply sit and respect those who don’t want to stand for the entire game. The article online was met with mixed reactions, but when repeated during pre-match warmup, the supporters’ reacted with a simple “no, thanks”.
Following the appeal Żyleta began chanting “Stand throughout the game” and was applauded by many fellow fans, mostly in the east stand. And, as you can see in the below compilation from last night, so they did. Vast majority of the 26,527 people in attendance refused to sit, making any attempts by stewards futile.
While there certainly are many fans who would wish to sit the game through, there’s also not enough room in the north end to hold all those wishing to stand and support. This suggests Legia’s debate on whether to sit or stand is only beginning.
No-one likes the aquarium
There’s also a practical aspect to this “no sitting” protest. Before first rows of all stands there’s a guard-rail. If you sit, it obstructs the view slightly (nearly transparent glass + metal railing). If you stand, you just lean onto the railing and watch comfortably. At the same time you make 20 rows behind you stand up.
This was widely noticed in social media comments to the Legia appeal. Many fans argue that if Legia lower the railing so that it doesn’t make them feel like in an “aquarium”, then they may ask fans to sit…