Polish ultras and refugees: No generosity here


I’ve tried to stay neutral over the whole debate over refugees in Poland, I’ve tried to understand the worries of a society which is not multicultural and which needs time to adapt to ethnic minorities.  I understand all the arguments, but it didn’t stop me being sad and sick to my stomach tonight when Lech Poznań ultras in their droves boycotted their first Europa League game against Belenenses due to UEFA’s decision to donate 1 Euro of every ticket to refugee charities.

To be slightly worried about immigration is, I think, a natural human emotion, it is linked to being unused to change and a fear of the unknown. But for fan groups to not go to a game of their beloved club because they do not want to donate money to people who are desperately fleeing a war zone crosses all boundaries in my opinion.  It shows a stupendous lack of compassion on the part of Lech fans.

Many Lech Ultras are protesting as they say donating money is a decision that has been forced on them from above.  Many of them are thus treating the boycott as another way of saying ‘fuck you’ to UEFA – as in protesting injustice from a far-off authoritarian body.  In reality their protest is a bit like a bully sitting in the corner pouting when a parent tells them that they should start being nicer to their fellow classmates.

If Poland’s economy keeps growing in the way it has over the last few years, more non-European immigration is an inevitability.  This means that eventually, whether radical right wing groups like it or not, Poland will gradually become a more multi-cultural society.  It is to be hoped that as and when this happens Polish society will be able to look back at those empty stands in Poznań as a time when the country hit an all-time low.  There are a lot of good people in Poland, I believe that over time they’ll show that same legendary warmth and hospitality that I’ve come to love to ethnic minorities too.  And then we can forget this sorry incident forever.

11 thoughts on “Polish ultras and refugees: No generosity here

  1. Lovely post. I’ve grown up in a multicultural society (Canada), and I think it enriched my childhood by exposing me to different cultures and faiths. In Edmonton, where I grew up, there is a festival that celebrates the diversity in our communities, with Arabic communities sharing their cultures alongside Poles and other Europeans. In Calgary, where I currently live, we continue to be immensely proud of our Mayor, who was also the first Muslim mayor in North America. He’s such a great spokesperson for the city and has so much passion and insight into municipal operations. Anyway, long story short, multiculturalism has not taken anything away from Canadians. It’s only made things better.

  2. As a season ticker holder at Lech Poznan I am sickened.
    They also had anti-Muslim banners which had nothing to do with UEFA or refugees, just plain racism.

    My home country has welcomed at its peak 300,000 Polish immigrants. Even now during recession with many Irish people suffering, many homeless, we still welcome Poles and we still try to help those who really need it.
    Ireland is also a Catholic country but we do not hate Muslims, yet Poland seems to think being a Catholic means being anti-Muslim.

    One excuse being used is that thousands of refugees will destroy the society of 40 million.
    300,000 Poles did not adversely affect Ireland which had barely 5 million.

    Lech has Muslim players, they helped us win the league last year.
    Should these Muslim players be allowed to leave the club on a free transfer? Or are they still welcome which would be complete hypocrisy.

    I have never once saw Polish football fans showing any solidarity with Ukraine. I have seen online people claiming to be Ultras from Lech and Legia messaging support to Russian fascists fighting in Donbas.

    These ultras NOW claim we should instead help Poles in Donbas, the same ones who are fighting with their Muslim and Jewish compatriots against the Russians? Surely Poles fighting with Muslims wouldn’t be welcome?

    As for the question about choice, it really highlights the difference between East and West which seems to be huge.
    What kind of person does not want to help others trying to escape from a bloody warzone? They did not have to give any extra money, the ticket price was not increased, it was purely a symbolic gesture.

    So fans boycotted against a symbolic gesture of decency.

    The EU is also pumping Billions into Poland to help it develop.
    Should countries like Ireland and the UK stop contributing to EU funds that help countries like Poland? Ireland has many homeless, some of them are Polish immigrants whom my mother works to help. We could use that money instead of seeing it being spent on Poles who show little humanity for others.

    • I agree with a lot of what you’re saying but we need to be careful not to tar all Poles with the same brush, most of Lech/Legia/Śląsk ultras are radical nationalists who are shunned by the political establishment.

      • Blackmail? That’s a bit melodramatic. The comment above is right. These fans are proud of their country and it’s Catholicism but when it comes to making a simple act of Christian charity they show their true colours.
        Helping never helps? Very insightful opinion that….

  3. Pingback: The Reading List – 23 September 2015 | The Long Ball

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