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One night in Warsaw
One night in Warsaw
Federico Farcomeni | 12/04/13 | 5:48 PM EST 0 Comments
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Scene: Warsaw Central Station, Zlota 59, outside Hard Rock Café. Late afternoon. Lazio have published a note on their website pointing their fans to this exact meeting point. Local police will then escort them to the Pepsi Arena for their team’s game against Legia in the Uefa Europa League. But the events take an unwelcome turn…

Suddenly, Policja – helmets on their heads, balaclavas on their faces and sticks well out – circles the Italian supporters who react. Some throw glass bottles and stones. Handcuffs are quickly released and the ultras are suddenly down on the floor, facing the pavement. Wounds and bruises, wrists are well tight behind their backs. Polish police, who are massive brutes, take nothing for granted. Three years in prison is the penalty for crimes like these.

The situation had been tense since September, when Legia ultras had travelled to Rome. Legend has it that some of them spend six days in the gym and one at the stadium. Italian policemen were dwarfed but had still to fight them to prevent damage or clashes with their Italian counterparts.

In a kind of revenge mission, Legia ultras were out in the early hours of Thursday, bursting into hotel rooms at Novotel and Marriott, threatening Italian guests with their knives and guns (and, well, muscles too). Some Lazio ultras had not travelled totally unprepared and were found in possession of machetes and knives themselves. Policja arrested twenty, seventeen from Rome. A few hours later, just moments away from kick-off, and just when Eintracht Frankfurt supporters broke the record for away fans in the group stage (12,000), the number increased to 137 – something totally unprecedented in European football’s history.

All of them are facing trials in turn, waiting to be freed anytime soon. In total, 18 have been convicted to two months in prison, three to three months and one to six months – 22 in total will have to spend Christmas in jail in Warsaw eating a slice of black bread and sipping sugarless tea. Meanwhile, Italian Government has been at it once again – passing the buck, doing virtually nothing for its citizens. The three wise monkeys.

During trials in Plac Krasińskich, an Italian-speaking policeman told some of the Lazio supporters: “We would have taken you either outside or inside the ground because we wanted to avoid you getting anywhere near Legia supporters.” Does this spell for premeditation?

If anything, one thing is quite clear – European soccer clubs need Supporters’ Liaison Officers sooner rather than later. If somebody at every club showed they really care, fans would feel more involved, secured and protected somehow. It would be fan-tastic if every set of supporters travelled in their numbers like Eintracht’s, savoring the occasion. This at least is the hope for the foreseeable future.


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