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EUROPE > Polish FA president Lato refuses to leave after Euros

WARSAW - Agence France-Presse

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Polish Football Association chief Grzegorz Lato says he will not bow out despite criticism following the national team’s disappointing Euro 2012 performance. EPA photo

Polish Football Association chief Grzegorz Lato says he will not bow out despite criticism following the national team’s disappointing Euro 2012 performance. EPA photo

The embattled head of Poland’s PZPN football association, Grzegorz Lato, yesterday refused to bow to pressure to quit over the team’s poor Euro 2012 showing and said he would run for a new term.

The 62-year-old former star striker denied that he had ever pledged to step down if co-hosts Poland failed to reach the tournament’s knock-out round.

“I never said I’d resign. I stressed repeatedly that I would make my decision after the end of the European championship,” Lato said in a press release.

“The championship is over, and we were very highly rated by UEFA president Michel Platini. We can all be proud of how this tournament was organised in Poland.”

PZPN spokeswoman Agnieszka Olejkowska said criticism was misplaced. “Without the PZPN, we wouldn’t have had the championship in Poland,” she insisted.

Since last year, Lato has faced claims of corruption, which he rejects - but they led to the sacking of the PZPN’s secretary-general.

The PZPN is also accused to doing too little to develop young players, though it faults Polish clubs.
The pressure mounted when Poland came bottom in its group at Euro 2012 against Greece and Russia and the Czech Republic.

“Change is needed. Change will benefit Polish football, the organisation and all of us,” Sports Minister Joanna Mucha said this week.

Many fans had hoped Euro 2012 would help revive Poland’s long-lost glory days. Lato, an international from 1971 to 1984, symbolises that era. He won the Golden Boot as top scorer at the 1974 World Cup, where Poland came third.

Lato insisted that the team’s failings should not detract from widely-praised Euro 2012, which ran from June 8 to July 1 and was organised with neighbouring Ukraine.

“All that was lacking were results on the pitch, and it’s through that prism that many people want to judge my work,” he said, adding that he was convinced Poland would qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

July/06/2012

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