Polish thugs are favorites to win this summer’s World Football Hooligan Cup in Germany.
Many were injured, over two hundred arrested and hundreds of thousands of zloties worth of damage as fans from Legia Warsaw rampaged through the Old Town district of the capital last weekend.
But this was no isolated incident. Six people have been killed in soccer related violence already this year in Poland.
Football hooliganism seems to be reaching a new peak. The government – led by the crime-populist, Law and Justice party - have announced a ‘no tolerance policy’ towards the thugs.
And they are right to do so. Polish football hooligans have been acting as anti-socially recently as have …well, Polish politicians.
Something must be done about both of them, preferably before the World Cup starts in June.
But top thugs from the top clubs have vowed that they will be out in force and solidarity in Germany this summer and aim to take over the top hooligan spot from their closest rivals, the English.
According to the UK Sunday Times:
[Polish thugs ] say they will be seeking “pre-arranged fights” with travelling England fans because of their reputation as “the best of the worst”. One group of Polish hooligans has warned that if the English “ignore invitations to fight, they will be attacked anyway”.
The London Times reports on the kind of person who will be going to fight for Poland:
“It will be the battle for Berlin,” Andrzej said, with a crooked, toothy grin. Clasping a can of beer and singing obscene anthems, he is one of the estimated 250,000 Polish supporters who will be travelling to Germany next month, with or without a ticket.
Short history of Polish hooliganism
The growth of rival gangs emerged during the mid 1970s but communist media ignored it.
The first time it was caught by the cameras was in 1981 during the TV transmission of a game between Legia and Widzew when fans invaded the pitch.
In the 1984-5 season 99 incidents of football related violence were recorded. By the mid 1990’s the police were recording well over 1000 a year.
After a relative decline in recent years the hooligans have been particularly active this year and last.
Hooligan World Cup
The authorities are fretting about what to do. They are studying the way the UK got rid of the problem it had in the 1980’s: by using a membership scheme, all ticket matches, blanket CCTV surveillance at grounds and heavy policing outside.
What amazed us here in Warsaw last weekend was how easily the fans could travel from Legia Warsaw’s ground south of the center of the city, right across to the Old Town to the north, get really, really drunk and smash the place up.
Where were the cops and what were they doing? Playing pocket billiards?
The Interior Ministry has issued around 600 wararrants for known trouble makers to be stopped at the border when trying to enter Germany.
England have issued about five times that number.
The first really big match that the cops are expecting boots to fly is the Germany against Poland match on June 14 in Dortmund.