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Polish Football Fan Shot by Police: The Rising Tension Between Law Enforcement and Citizens Around the World

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On Saturday May 2 a tragic incident occurred at a fourth tier football match in Poland which only served to underscore the fact that, increasingly, police force is being used the world over to an alarming degree—it is not just happening in the United States. At a match between Concordia Knurów and Ruch Radzionkow a fan was shot and killed by a rubber bullet when a group of Concordia supporters entered the pitch, reportedly to attack the away section housing Ruch fans. Emergency first aid on the side of the field failed to resuscitate the victim. Additionally, rioting broke out around the hospital the victim was taken to resulting in non-life threatening injuries to fourteen policemen and many arrests. One report called it “total chaos in town” with molotov cocktails and tear gas used when ultras from the Slask region came to the small town of Knurow and joined in the rioting.

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Images Courtesy Of: http://www.ultras-tifo.net/news/3460-news-polish-supporter-shot-and-killed-by-police.html

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Images Courtesy Of: http://www.ultras-tifo.net/news/3463-riots-in-knurow-after-police-killed-footballfan.html

Sad events like these show that rising violence in societies will be met by consequent actions by police forces. Although this seems to be an accident stemming from an inadequate number of police at the match (in the videos only a handful are seen), it is still worth analyzing in the context of an alarming growth of tensions between citizens and law enforcement all over the world. It is also worth noting that the event occurred almost one year to the day that a security guard lit a fan on fire at a match between Slask Wroclaw and Zaglebie Lubin on April 28 2014.

 

Polish football is no stranger to controversy. In January of 2014 there was an investigation into rising anti-Semitism at Polish football matches. Polish football writer Michal Zachodny explains that the problem “comes from the fact that most of the ultras groups and hooligans are connecting themselves to far-right movements which they take and explain as patriotic.” Thus these fans might not necesarily be anti-Semitic themselves, it is just that their clubs have had these chants as part of their history.

According to many commentators these nationalist far right movements have risen steadily Europe due to the continent’s ongoing financial crisis. But The Economist adds an important point: “Concerns over national culture, identity and a way of life matter more than material worries.” As many might know, many football teams—whether their roots are Jewish or working class or something else—were founded as representations of ethnic identities, class identities, and many others. When that identity is threatened, their fans—like so much of the general populace—will react. And as long as the potential for violent reactions remain it seems police will be prepared to react in kind.

 

Polonia Warsaw 2012-2013, Home Shirt Dziewicki 5

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I got this shirt during the Polonia-Korona Kielce match I attended on a cold November night in Warsaw. It was just my luck to find a girl selling shirts across from the sausage stand behind one of the goals during the half time break. The gold accents in the form of Hummel’s traditional chevrons serve as a nice contrast to the black background. The sponsors and the number 5 and name of Polonia legend Piotr Dziewicki are all screen printed onto a very quality fabric. Indeed, this shirt’s fabric was much better than that of the other Hummel shirts on offer for some reason. Interestingly, Dziewicki played two seasons in Turkey for Antalyaspor before returning to Poland. He is currently the coach of Polonia Warzsawa.

 

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Legia Warsaw 2012-2013, Away Shirt

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This shirt was purchased in the Legia shop at the team’s Pepsi Arena. The shirt is a nice modern Adidas design, sporting the team’s classic “L” badge. The Active Jet and Krolewskie sponsors are professionally applied in a felt-like material, and the red accents on the sleeves and collar match well with the sponsor–many shirts are ruined when the sponsor looks out of place. The fact that this shirt is in the team’s traditional green makes this a good addition to the collection, even if it is not vintage (Legia have some amazing vintage designs as can be seen at oldfootballshirts.com).

 

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Pepsi Arena, Warsaw, Poland – Legia Warsaw

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This is Legia Warsaw’s new stadium, the Pepsi Arena. Unfortunately, I was not able to get any shots of the pitch so I had to settle with pictures from outside. The other pictures are some interesting Legia Warsaw graffiti from around the city; most appeared on decaying underpasses near the stadium. In my opinion the best piece is the one of the Soviet-era Palace of Culture–a symbol of Warsaw–with the Legia badge peaking out from behind it. Much like the appearance of Thessaloniki’s White Tower (complete with Aris badge) on a banner in the stands during the Aris-PAOK match, this is another example of football ultras aiming to take ownership of an urban landmark, and in so doing assert their team’s supremacy within the city by owning the geography. The last three pictures are from the Legia museum, I included their collection of Besiktas memorabilia because, as a Turkish soccer fan, it is always interesting to see what kinds of relationships Turkish clubs have with European clubs. As a final note, the green Adidas Legia shirt in the final picture is a classic Adidas design from the mid-nineties–I would love to get my hands on that shirt! Instead, I had to settle for a modern Legia shirt which is–naturally–still a good piece.

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Stadion Polonii, Warsaw, Poland: Polonia Warsaw-Korona Kielce (2-0) Matchday

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The view from the stands as Polonia Warsaw faced Korona Kielce on a cold November night in the 7,150 capacity Stadion Polonii. It was a good atmosphere, and I think that Polonia’s status as Warsaw’s second club–yet oldest–made for a cozy feel despite the cold:

 

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