Friday, November 25, 2011

Polish football chief to get corruption red card?

Just seven months before the Euro 2012 football championships, Polish football association (PZPN) chief Grzegorz Lato has been accused of corruption.

The basic story, which, if true will be seismological in its effect in Poland ahead of a championships that are meant to showcase all that is modern and progressive about the nation, is here.

New sports minister, Joanna Mucha has passed the accusations on to the attorney general.

It's too early to attribute guilt or not, but coming so close to the Poland and Ukraine-staged Euro 2012 championships, this is not going to help the image of Polish soccer one little bit.

I remember watching the TV three years ago as PZPN announced the results of the ballot among its members for who was going to be the new chief of Polish football. It was a significant moment in the history of the game here. The previous years had been mired by a widespread match fixing scandal, with tens, and then hundreds of PZPN officials, coaches and players being arrested. Polish football stank like a footballers' changing rooms on a wet Sunday morning, and the game needed new leadership, and a new image.

And then it was announced that Grzegorz Lato was to be the new head of PZPN. The person I was watching the TV with and I let out a simultaneous groan of disappointment. Lato was associated with the old guard at PZPN, the same bunch of cronies that had presided over a game reeking of corruption.

Lato was a once brilliant footballer in the 1970s but who later became a politician for the ex-communist left, a party that had been so tainted by corruption scandals during the 1990s and first half of the 2000s that they might never be in government again.

Lato was the 'no-change candidate' for the PZPN presidency.

In recent days he has been embroiled in a 'where's the eagle on our football shirts' scandal. A messy compromise has been hammered out and the eagle will be sown back onto the shirts. It left Lato looking a bit of a fool already. And now this.

If the allegations of corruption are true then to say this is an own-goal by Polish football would be understatement of the year.


Z. Zuccotti said...

Given the stink of Polish soccer, it's just as or even stinkier that FIFA authorities just nodded their heads to Lato's election (by a bunch of other old boy network leftovers).

And what did Lato say after his election when he was interviewed upon meeting with FIFA prez Blatter?

Interviewer: What are your goals in your new role as association President?

Lato: Our initial priority is a much closer partnership with the sports ministry. . . Dark episodes from the past, corruption for example, must finally be consigned to the dustbin of history.

Z. Zuccotti said...

And on the subject of soccer, er, football, what was your take, BR, on the Arboleda incident? Did he really stick his finger where it didn't belong on the pitch or was that whole incident just a matter of accusations grounded in racist bs? I recall that Smuda was all set to name the guy to the NT, and then the incident transpired and that was that.

For folks who may be unaware of the bruhaha over Arboleda, he is an African player with a Polish league team with a Polish wife and their kid is learning Polish as his first language.

beatroot said...

I think he's Colombian, actually. Are you refering to when he stuck his fingers up Smolarek's bum? He is not popular in geberal with Polish footballers...particulalrly strikers...they consider him a dirty player who moans all the time. Arboleda has made racist accusations in the past and has/or has applied for Polish citizenship so he could play for Poland. But he's basically too old now, I think...well into his 30s.

PZPN/Lato supported Blatter in the latest vote at did most national football associations (though the English one did not and raised the corruption issue).

beatroot said...

Defenders sticking fingers in places not usually meant for sticking fingers in is not unusual, though, as Vinnie jones showed Paul Gasgoine a while back.

Z. Zuccotti said...

Ooops, it is Manuel Arboleda born in Columbia and now a Polish citizen with Polish wife and child. And his Polish isn't all that bad.

It seems that before the reputed incident, 73% of Polish fans wanted him on the national team.

I've seen the photos of the incident and they don't look definitive of purposeful intent in any way. . . . in contrast to the old photo of Jones who is clearly grabbing the other guy's package.

beatroot said...

Awful football related news about the suicide of Wales manager Gary Speed. Saw him on football focus on the bbc yesterday and he was his usual intelligent, charming self. Looked fine. Four wales players are having to play a game of football this afternoon at the Swansea - Aston Villa game. During the 'minutes silence' before the match started the crowd burst into spontaneous applause and sang Welsh national anthem. Very moving. Am sitting here crying like a baby...

Anonymous said...

Don't international football organisations (FIFA, UEFA) stink the same much? Common...
Were they blind for so many years for what was going on with Polish footbal?

jannowak57 said...

The answer lies in relentless investigation and prosecution until the desired effect is achieved, what did anyone expect when you have a bunch of ex commies from the PRL days running things. These people are inherently corrupt, no one in their right mind would have expected a different outcome.

beatroot said...

Though it is undoubted that the cretins currently running PZPN are of a different era - an era particular to Poland and other post-commie countries - can we seperate them from other associations within FIFE and UEFA? The English FA has charged Blatter et al with corruption following the allocation of the World Cup to QWatar etc. So is the problem wider than simply Poland's domestic troubles with 'autonomous' sporting associations run by cronies of the Lato ilk?

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