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Hooligans may hit Euro 2012 hosts Poland

April 03, 2012

-File photo

WARSAW: Euro 2012 host Poland lacks a database of foreign hooligans banned from stadiums in their homelands, raising the risk of trouble at the looming tournament, monitors warned on Tuesday.

Poland's National Audit Chamber (NIK) said the issue was a cause for concern just two months before the 16-nation European football championships, co-hosted with neighbouring Ukraine, kicks off in the capital Warsaw.

“There's no functioning list in Poland of individuals hit by stadium bans abroad, because the police have been too slow in setting it up,” said NIK chief Jacek Jezierski.

“To date, there haven't been any agreements with foreign partners and there aren't any legal norms for this,” he explained, as the NIK launched a report on security preparations.

“This could hamper police efforts to ensure security at Euro 2012, both inside the stadiums and out,” he warned.

Much of Poland's pre-Euro 2012 focus has been on home-grown hooligans, whose hardcore is officially estimated at up to 5,000 in this nation of 38 million.

But with hundreds of thousands of fans set to flood in to Poland and Ukraine in June, authorities are bracing for problems from travelling fringe elements.

National police spokesman Inspector Mariusz Sokolowski played down the NIK's findings.

He said Polish law enforcement authorities did not need a special register, given that they would be working directly with liaison officers from foreign police forces.

“From the beginning, we've said that on this issue we'll be sharing information with police forces from the countries whose teams are taking part,” Sokolowski explained.

Agreements with the forces concerned are set to be inked next month, he added.

Poland and Ukraine will host eight teams each in the Euro 2012 group stage.

Besides the Poles, those playing here are Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Russia, and reigning champions Spain.

But other fans could be thrown into the mix even before the quarter- and semi-finals, as Denmark, England, Germany, Holland and Portugal have picked Polish base-camps despite playing in Ukraine.

Only three teams have chosen to set up shop in Ukraine: the Ukrainians themselves, plus France and Sweden.