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FA in hooligan-hit Poland bans away fans

Poland's PZPN national football association on Thursday banned away fans from all remaining first, second and third division matches of the season, as pressure mounts to beat hooliganism before Euro 2012.

AFP, Thursday 12 May 2011
Poland
Poland fans
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A day after Prime Minister Donald Tusk ratcheted up the pressure by warning that hooliganism posed a threat to the European Championships, due to be held next year in Poland and Ukraine, the PZPN board held a crisis meeting.

"The PZPN board has decided that all remaining league games in the Ekstraklasa, and Leagues I and II for the 2010-211 season will take place without visiting supporters," it said in a statement.

The decision, which the PZPN underlined was taken at the request of Poland's police chief, came after talks on Wednesday between its chief Grzegorz Lato, Tusk and other officials, and representatives of clubs.

There are four remaining matchdays in Poland's 16-club top flight, the Ekstraklasa, which wraps up on May 29.

The decision affects six matchdays in the 18-club League I, where the season ends on June 11. Six matchdays also remain in League II, which ends on June 12 and it split into two separate, 18-club regional competitions.

The PZPN also called on Poland's provincial football associations, which oversee League III downwards, to move to bar away fans.

Tusk, himself an ardent fan and Sunday league player, has pledged to do all he can to stem hooliganism ahead of Euro 2012, which represents a showcase as it is the first edition of the 16-nation tournament to take place behind the former Iron Curtain.

Fan violence and the drive to stamp it out has been front-page news since last week, when fans of Ekstraklasa powerhouses Lech Poznan and Legia Warsaw marred Poland's cup final in the northern city of Bydgoszcz.

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