Football hooliganism in Poland

Football hooliganism in Poland first developed as a recognised phenomenon in the 1970s, and has continued since then with numerous recognised hooligan firms and large-scale fights. Until 1997, the number of related incidents rose, according to Przemyslaw Piotrowski of Jagiellonian University. The problem of hooliganism related to soccer has been compared to what he described as the dark days of football hooliganism in Western Europe in the 1980s. Hooliganism in Poland is comparable in its scale to what notoriously used to happen in England, but no longer does. Many Polish football clubs have hooligan firms associated with them.

The first reports of clashes between fans during football games date back to the 1930s. On 2 June 1935 after a game between Cracovia and Ruch Chorzów, the police had to "intervene and surround the field". On 15 June 1936, the Przegląd Sportowy daily sports newspaper published an appeal by the management of Śląsk Świętochłowice, asking their fans to "control their behaviour and maintain order". During the occupation of Poland in World War II, the Nazi German occupiers banned all sports. However, "illegal" games were played on regular basis. During one of these matches in Kraków on 17 October 1943, fans of Cracovia and Wisła Kraków interrupted the game and started fighting which spread onto the streets of the Ludwinow district in Kraków. The fighting lasted for several hours.

After a match on 29 September 1947 in Sosnowiec, between RKU Sosnowiec and AKS Chorzów (ethnic rivalry, derby) fighting broke out resulting in the death of one fan and scores of others injured. Sosnowiec won the match 3-2, however in the first leg AKS Chorzów had won 3-0, meaning they were promoted to the First Division. After the match, 20,000 home fans were slowly moving out of the stadium, pushed by firemen and Milicja Obywatelska. Skirmishes broke out, and the Milicja Obywatelska functionaries, with guns, lined up on the pitch and attacked the fans with bayonets and the fighting lasted for two hours. Sosnowiec fans tried to attack AKS's players, the referees and the Milicjants. Although incidents from the 1920s to the 1960s were numerous, there was no organized hooliganism in Poland.

There is no official information about football related violence in the 1970s as any incidents that happened were not reported by the Polish media which was compliant with the policies of the Communist authorities in the People's Republic of Poland. Sporadic incidents took place, usually in the streets near to stadiums, near railway stations. By the late 1970s there were about ten hooligan firms, mostly connected to Polish First Division clubs. Few Polish football fans travelled to away matches.

The common name for Polish football fans is scarfers (szalikowcy in (in Polish)). It is unclear when the first scarfers appeared. As the number of scarfers grew, the Polish Football Association tried to curb these groups. The renowned referee and journalist Grzegorz Aleksandrowicz initiated the so-called "Fan Clubs", but this idea disappeared at the beginning of the 1980s, due to martial law in Poland and Aleksandrowicz's death.

In the mid-1970s, friendships between some groups began. Probably the oldest still active alliance is the one between fans of Śląsk Wrocław and Lechia Gdańsk which dates back to 1977. Other alliances, such as that between Legia Warsaw and Zagłębie Sosnowiec and that between Polonia Warsaw and Cracovia date back to the late 1970s. Usually, alliances were (and still are) created by firms of clubs that are located a considerable distance from each other. Firms of neighbouring clubs, especially in the same city, are in most cases enemies.

This page was last edited on 2 April 2018, at 00:06 (UTC).
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

Related Topics

Recently Viewed