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Security fears cast doubt on Polish cup final

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29 Mar 2012 18:46:47

Security fears cast doubt on Polish cup final

The football association of Euro 2012 host Poland has been forced to hunt for a new location for its looming cup final, as security fears persist after the 2011 edition was marred by hooligans.

Police in the Baltic port of Gdansk said they did not want the April 24 match to take place there, said association board member Witold Dawidowski.

"They said it would have to involve too many officers," Dawidowski told Poland's PAP news agency.

Gdansk is one of the four cities in Poland that in June will host the European championships, organised along with neighbouring Ukraine.

Its brand-new arena opened last September, and there have been suggestions that officials fear potential damage during the cup final.

The alternative venue in the southern city of Kielce - not a Euro 2012 location - also seems off the cards because city hall has refused to give a green light.

The original plan had been to hold the cup final in the brand-new National Stadium in the capital Warsaw, which opened in January.

But despite its successfully having hosted a friendly between Poland and Portugal on February 29, matches pitting Polish clubs have been put on ice because of the need to improve the security-communications system for higher-risk games.

Police estimates put the hooligan hardcore at up to 5,000 in this nation of 38 million.

Long a background concern here, the issue is solidly in the spotlight amid fears that it could mar Euro 2012.

Stung by claims that they were failing to take the problem seriously, Polish authorities cracked down in the wake of last year's cup final in the northern city of Bydgoszcz.

The May 3 match was marked by a pitch-invasion and a brawl with security forces, involving scores of fans of top-flight clubs Lech Poznan and winners Legia Warsaw.

Current league leaders Legia could find themselves in this year's final too, provided they edge second-division Arka Gdynia in the semi-finals on April 4 and 11.

The other semi-finalists are first-division clubs Ruch Chorzow and Wisla Krakow - the latter won the league last year - who meet on April 3 and 10.


AFP

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