Monday, March 30th, 2009
Imagine the outcry if Northern Ireland fans marched through Warsaw displaying swastikas to taunt the Poles.
Northern Ireland recorded one of the results of the weekend, going top of their World Cup qualifying group by beating Poland 3-2, albeit with the help of a career defining blunder from Artur Boruc. However a day of celebration for the Irish was ruined by awful scenes of violence, with onlookers accusing the visiting Poles of inciting the locals by unfurling the Republican Eirigi flag through the streets of Belfast.
Leading the accusations was Northern Ireland Sports Minister Gregory Campbell, who spelled out the significance of the Eirigi flag.
Campbell: “There were some Polish fans who introduced one of the Irish republican flags, that are supportive of the group that killed the soldiers and the policeman a few weeks ago, which obviously then led to even more tension.”
A BBC radio interview in which Gregory Campbell explained exactly what he saw can be heard here.
Earlier reports on the day chronicled how rival supporters had clashed outside a pub, with the on-sight BBC reporter, Colette Hume, pointing the finger of blame at the fact that fans had all day to get drunk leading to unruly fans.
The BBC report can be seen here.
Against this backdrop, and takjing into account Poland’s well-known repuation for housing violent football fans, UEFA’s decision to host the 2012 European Championship in Poland and the Ukraine looks to be increasingly alarming.