Thousands pay tribute to failed Poland side
A day after Poland’s heartbreaking exit from the European
Championship, thousands of supporters packed a fan zone in the
country’s capital to pay tribute to the team’s efforts.
The sprawling space in front of the towering Palace of Culture
was once again a sea of red and white. Scarves swirled as chants of
”Polska, Polska” echoed across the city. The players took to a
stage to acknowledge the cheering fans for 10 minutes, waving at
them and filming them.
Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski praised the country’s fans
for their unwavering support.
”We know we could have played better,” Blaszczykowski said at
the fan zone. ”We want to thank all our fans for the faith that
they have shown in the Polish national team. We want to thank you
for supporting us so well, no matter if we win, lose or draw.”
The players then walked towards their team bus, stopping and
signings autographs for fans they passed on the way.
Euro 2012 co-host Poland was eliminated from the tournament on
Saturday after a 1-0 defeat against the Czech Republic.
Many fans were dejected after the result, but the mood quickly
turned to national and patriotic pride in central Warsaw as the
night went on. Hundreds of fans chanted and took over a main
street, blocking traffic while playing a spontaneous match of
football. The ball was pinged off passing cars to the bemusement of
diners sitting on sidewalk terraces and ended up being kicked onto
a rooftop before dawn started to break.
Polish fans took a special liking to Greece supporters and
embraced some of them, after the 2004 champion advanced to the
quarterfinals at the expense of Russia with a 1-0 win. Poland and
Russia, who share a bitter history, played out a 1-1 draw Tuesday
at the National Stadium, a match overshadowed by hooligan violence
between fans from both countries.
It was replays of Blaszczykowski’s goal against Russia, shown on
a big screen above the stage, that brought emotional cheers from
On Sunday, striker Robert Lewandowski was also on hand at the
fan zone and called on the crowd to ”stay with us. We know we can
play better in the future.”
Supporters hoped for a better performance from the national side
in future tournaments and were confident Poland had a strong chance
to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
”This was the fourth big tournament in 12 years and every time,
we don’t make it out of the group,” fan Pawel Chaber said. ”We
trust that, for the World Cup (in Brazil), we will be better and we
will play better.”
Poles are adamant they will still be following the remainder of
the tournament, despite their side going out in the first round
without a win. Poland finished bottom of Group A with just two
points from three matches.
It appears that many Poles have adopted the Czech Republic as
their team for the rest of the tournament. Thousands of Polish fans
attended a training session for the Czech side that was open to the
public Sunday, applauding every goal the side scored.
”I think there will still be a massive interest in what happens
next in the football,” fan Pawel Murawski said. ”And I hope that
nations all over the world see Warsaw, see Poland and want to come
here. They will see it is a nice place.”