Lech Poznan protest stadium ban
WARSAW - Agence France-Presse
Sergei Krivets (L) and Luis Henriquez from Lech Poznan fight for ball with Adam Johnson (C). AFP PhotoPolish top-flight club Lech Poznan have blasted a decision to bar their fans from Saturday's crunch away match against league leaders Legia Warsaw, as supporters warned they would head there anyway.
Club president Karol Klimczak said he was "astonished and outraged" by the ruling from Warsaw regional authorities, who cited security concerns.
"We can't understand why someone is determined at all costs to strip Polish football of what is most important to the game, in other words, the fans," he said.
In a statement on Tuesday, Warsaw's regional governor Jacek Kozlowski said he had acted on the advice of the police, amid fears of public disorder at the capital's Pepsi Arena, Legia's home ground.
The police reportedly also raised concerns that the game between the clubs - whose fans have a history of bad blood - coincided with a right-wing, anti-government march in the capital.
Klimczak warned that with over 1,500 tickets already bought by Lech supporters and special trains booked from the western city of Poznan, fans were angry.
The "Wiara Lecha" fan club - which in Poznan slang loosely translates as "Lech's Lads" - has said its members plan to go to Warsaw despite the ban.
There have been reports that they could head to the anti-government rally, raising the spectre of a repeat of the trouble on Poland's November 11 independence day last year, when football hooligans and the far-right joined forces.
Poland has been clamping down on hooligans - estimated by police at up to 5,000 in this nation of 38.5 million - as it braces along with neighbouring Ukraine to host the European championships in June.
Long accused of failing to do enough, the authorities were stung into action after fan violence at last May's Polish Cup final between Lech and Legia, who won the match.
After that game, the Polish leagues banned away supporters from all remaining matches of the 2010-2011 season, and ad hoc bans for individual matches have been imposed this term.
But many ordinary supporters protest that that is tantamount to collective punishment.
Klimczak also complained that the absence of their supporters could undermine Lech's performance in what is a crucial game.
With just four fixtures left this season, Lech are fifth in Poland's 16-club first division, two slots short of a European competition berth.
Legia, meanwhile, have a three-point lead on second-placed Slask Wroclaw.