Polish hooligans worrying UEFA ahead of Euro 2012

Hooliganism is causing a ”huge image problem” for European

Championship co-host Poland with every round of league matches

marred by crowd trouble, a UEFA executive said on Wednesday.

Ahead of the influx of football fans in the country next year,

Polish authorities have vowed to adopt a zero tolerance toward

hooliganism.

But the ongoing struggle to eradicate violence among Polish fans

was highlighted when they clashed with police in Lithuania around a

friendly on Friday. About 60 Poles were detained for throwing

bottles, flares and benches at police and security guards. One

guard was injured.

”We are looking very carefully at the situation because there

are many activities on the hooligan scene in Poland,” said Martin

Kallen, UEFA’s Euro 2012 operations director, at the SoccerEx

conference on Wednesday.

”What we saw at last Friday’s match was not a very good picture

to see that happening in a stadium.”

Poland, which is co-hosting the tournament with Ukraine, has

announced plans to use fast-track trials by video linkup during the

tournament. Fans also have to be on a central database to buy

tickets, part of a bid to deny potential troublemakers.

”On the hooligan side we are concerned, but I also know the

Polish government is concerned,” Kallen said. ”They know they

have a problem – they have a huge image problem. There are always

hooligans around every match day in the league but the government

is making the right steps for the future.”

Marcin Herra, the head of the Polish organizing committee, said

the ”minority cannot spoil the event for the majority.”

”The new legislation allows us to work much more precisely

against those hooligans,” Herra said. ”There will be zero

tolerance to make sure that 500 people cannot spoil the event for

one million people.”

Kallen doesn’t expect the same troublesome supporters who

disrupt Polish league matches to make it into Euro 2012

stadiums.

”Different people will be coming to matches – there will be

more families,” he said. ”The Euro is a party and in many areas

there is more a problem on a daily basis for club matches. But

clearly we are facing some challenges.”

Kallen also told the conference in Manchester that some of the

pledges made by Poland and Ukraine about infrastructure

developments would not be kept. With many new motorways and roads

not ready, fans will have to take diversions to reach venues.