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.