I’ve been following the Polish league for 6 full years now, writing articles about it, watching the matches, following social media regarding it and generally getting involved in its welfare. And, although I will continue to follow it, attempt to promote it and enjoy the matches I’ve hit a bit of a brick wall. It’s not however because of the quality of the league, or the results in Europe and so on. It’s because of the wave of negativity that surrounds the league, the endless complaints about the level, the groans when a pass is misplaced, the failure to appreciate anything about it.
I’m not entirely sure if this negativity is amplified because of social media, I think in some ways it is. In the past if something wasn’t right with football, people would talk to the people they were watching the match with, now all of this angst gets thrown into the washing machine of negativity that is social media. But the level of criticism of the league on social media in Poland is totally disproportionate to what I see on the pitch.
I’ll give you an example. Last night top of the table Jagiellonia Białystok lost at home to a side in the lower reaches of the table, Śląsk Wrocław 4-0. ‘Jaga’ played terribly, were off the pace, had problems with fitness and just generally had a very bad day. But instead of appreciating the fact that anyone can beat anyone in the Ekstraklasa, complaints (often from important voices in the press) flooded social media. That the Ekstraklasa is a terrible league because it’s so equal, that you never know who’s going to beat who, that results are about luck and so on. This is achingly ironic considering that fans in the top 5 leagues are desperate for their leagues to be MORE equal, for Barcelona to NOT win games, for Bayern Munich to lose (at the time of writing these results are happening, something people in those countries are applauding).
Now I know Polish sides are not doing well in European football – they’ve failed to qualify for European group stages for two years in a row – and this obviously has an impact on the way that Poles view their own league but even then I’m not sure what fans and commentators actually want from the league. Everyone knows that the Ekstraklasa is not a top five league, why can’t people appreciate the league for what it is? I’ll give you an analogy. Someone’s driving a perfectly serviceable car, let’s say a Renault Clio, do they constantly look with envy at every luxury car that is driving past while at the same time cursing the fact they don’t have enough money to buy those cars?
To me the criticism of the Polish league is a form of self-flagellation. Look how awful we are, look how we can’t do anything – it’s almost saying we deserve it because of the way that football is run in Poland. After a while even the most positive person drowns when this attitude is so ever present.
I don’t have an answer to the burning problems in Polish football but a little bit of positivity in outlook would go a long way. For the moment I’m going to enjoy watching some highlights of the weekend’s matches. Perhaps you should too.