Polish police launch anti-hooligan sweep
AFP, Tuesday 10 May 2011
Polish police Tuesday announced they had arrested 21 people in a crackdown on football hooligans, in the wake of trouble that marred the Euro 2012 host nation's cup final last week


"They were identified thanks to surveillance recordings. The evidence has enabled them to be charged with destruction of property, invading the pitch and attacking security forces, including the police," Poland's police chief Andrzej Matejuk was quoted as saying by the national news agency PAP.

Police said that more arrests were on the cards, because they had identified 70 individuals involved in the cup final fracas in the northern city of Bydgoszcz on May 3.

The game pitted high-flying sides Lech Poznan and Legia Warsaw. After it ended 1-1, Legia went on to win 5-4 on penalties and supporters of both sides invaded the pitch, forcing the police to step in.

They also smashed up seats and other stadium equipment.

There is no love lost between fans from the western city of Poznan and those from the Polish capital Warsaw, and hardcore supporters of both Lech and Legia have earned a reputation for making trouble.

After the cup final trouble, Polish authorities ordered Lech and Legia to play their next home matches in empty grounds.

That sparked a street protest by some 3,000 Legia fans outside their stadium on Friday, some of whom wore masks and threatened television crews and news photographers. Inside, Legia beat league stragglers Korona Kielce 3-1.

Lech fans also tasted victory at a distance, as the Poznan side beat mid-table Gornik Zabrze 2-0 on Saturday.

Putting aside often bitter rivalries, fans of clubs across the Polish league also held match-day protests over the weekend.

They targeted centre-right Prime Minister Donald Tusk -- an ardent football supporter -- whose government has pledged to get tough with hooligans ahead of next year's European Championships which Poland will host with neighbouring Ukraine.

Even those at Lechia Gdansk, the club the premier supports, refused to take their seats and unfurled a banner reading: "Stand closed at the request of Donald Tusk".

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