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Mar, 30, 2011

UEFA admits hooligan concerns

UEFA has admitted concerns that Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland have hooliganism issues "around every matchday in the league".

Euro 2012: Netherlands edge thriller

UEFA's director of Euro 2012, Martin Kallen, has accepted that Poland - co-hosts for the tournament along with Ukraine - have a "huge image problem".

In January, a 24-year-old man died during a clash between over 100 rival fans in Lodz while, after Poland's friendly in Lithuania last week, 60 fans were detained after bottles, flares and benches were thrown at police. There are also overt neo-Nazi groups.

UEFA president Michel Platini said in October that there would be "zero tolerance" shown towards hooligans at the tournament, and the Polish government has announced plans to tighten security, including the introduction of electronic ankle tethers to monitor the movements of the 1,800 fans banned from matches.

Kallen told the Soccerex conference in Manchester: "On the hooligan side, we are concerned, but I know the Polish government is also concerned.

"They know they have a problem - they have a huge image problem. There are always hooligans around every matchday in the league but the government is making the right steps for the future.

"What we saw at last Friday's match was not a very good picture to see that happening in a stadium. We and the Polish government are concerned. They are taking this seriously and will have changes in the next month."

Kallen also believes the number of families at the tournament will create a different atmosphere to Polish league games.

He added: "For the Euro, different people will be coming to matches - there will be more families. The Euro is a party and in many areas there is more a problem on a daily basis for club matches."

Marcin Herra, head of Poland 2012, said there was no possibility of the tournament being moved - "We have no other way," he said - but stressed that there will be severe measures in force to keep the hooligans under control.

"The minority cannot spoil the event for the majority," he said. "In Poland, the new legislation allows us to work much more precisely against those hooligans. There will be zero tolerance to make sure that 500 people cannot spoil the event for one million people."

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