Polish police engage with 'Never Again' as Euro 2012 plans continue
Polish police are linking up with FARE partner ‘Never Again’, the country’s anti-racism organisation, to reduce stadium hooliganism ahead of co-hosting Euro 2012.
Rafal Pankowski, who heads up the organisation, said: “We perhaps won’t be able to make racism disappear from the stadia during Euro 2012, but we can take advantage of the situation to actively combat it.”
A 24-year-old man died on January 8 in a clash between around 150 supporters of rival teams in the central Polish city of Lodz. Four of 29 suspects under investigation in the case have been remanded in police custody.
Authorities have vowed they are ready to take on gangs, some openly neo-Nazi, and others, involved in organised crime.A large anti-Semitic banner was touted in public during a third-division derby in May 2010 in the south-eastern Polish city of Rzeszow. Local prosecutors charged two suspects in the case but dropped investigations against four others.
“We are prepared. We have plenty of experience in the area and officers are well trained,” said Poland’s national police spokesman Krzysztof Hajdas.
The Justice Ministry has announced it will use electronic tags to monitor the movements of Polish fans banned from stadia for the duration of Euro 2012 from June 8 to July 1. Currently there are roughly 1,800 banned fans.
The measure is part of a raft of draft legislation on domestic security, something which Poland’s liberal government, led by Prime Minister Donald Tusk, has set as a priority for 2011.
Following the death, national chief of police Andrzej Matejuk reinforced police units specifically focused on combating football hooligans by infiltrating the gangs to identify members involved in criminal activities.
Hajdas insists that police efforts to contain hooligan violence paid off in 2010, with authorities recording 100 incidents over the course of the year from thousands of matches at all league levels in Poland. This figure was down from the 180 cases of hooligan-related violence in 2009.
Hajdas concluded by claiming that fans supporting Poland’s national side are generally a more law-abiding bunch than those showing up at club matches.
“Supporters of the Polish national side conduct themselves in a completely civilised manner. Everything will depend on how the fans of the other sides who come to Poland will behave. In any case, we’re ready.”