Clash of icons looms for control of Polish FA

13 September 2012 01:17

Ex-international Zbigniew Boniek is to run for the post of boss of Poland's football association, allies say, setting up the prospect of a new clash of the icons with embattled incumbent and fellow former star Grzegorz Lato.

Boniek announced his plans at a closed-door meeting of Polish regional football chiefs, Poland's PAP news agency reported.

"He informed us that he had decided to run for president, and will begin collecting the required 15 nominations on Friday," south-eastern regional head Kazimierz Gren was quoted as saying.

Under the rules, candidates must drum up support either from members of Poland's PZPN football association, its regional arms, or first and second-tier clubs.

"Anyone who backs sweeping changes in Polish football should welcome the fact that Zbigniew Boniek is standing. It's good news," added Gren, a former Lato loyalist turned ardent adversary.

Boniek, 56, is a popular pundit in the Polish media. He is based in Italy, where he played for Juventus in the 1980s alongside Frenchman Michel Platini, now head of UEFA, and with whom he still enjoys strong ties.

Lato, 62, who beat Boniek in the 2008 PZPN leadership race, had already announced he will be standing for re-election at its October 26 general assembly.

Boniek and Lato were both in the Poland squads that shone on the global stage in the 1970s and early 1980s.

Long-suffering fans pining for a revival of the golden age were sorely disappointed when co-hosts Poland tumbled out in the group stage at Euro 2012.

Already facing claims of high-level corruption at the PZPN -- which he has vociferously denied and blamed on mudslinging -- Lato refused to bow to pressure to quit over the poor performance at Euro 2012.

Having already seen off a PZPN coup attempt earlier this year, he insists continuity is key.

Lato was first elected in October 2008, defusing a dispute between the Polish government and FIFA that began 21 months earlier.

The government had put the PZPN under administration after axeing its board for failing to stem match-fixing.

But that fell foul of rules against political meddling in football, with FIFA threatening to ban Poland from international competition.

A string of lower-profile candidates have also entered the race.

Among them is international-turned-member of parliament, 46-year-old Roman Kosecki.

Source: AFP