2021-03-31 21:50:23 UTC
Poland vs England World Cup Match in Racism Row
The President of Poland’s Football Association has criticised England players for taking the knee in protest at racism, reports Sian Norris
English players will take the knee at tonight’s World Cup qualifying match against Poland – but the proposed gesture of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement has prompted a racist backlash from Polish fans.
“Taking the knee” has become a symbol of resistance against racism after US player Colin Kaepernick first knelt during the National Anthem in protest at police killings of black people.
Asked by a Polish journalist if he supported taking the knee, the President of the Polish Football Association Zbigniew Boniek responded by saying “I am absolutely against such actions.” (...)
Boniek, who is considered to be one of the greatest Polish footballers of all time, has a history of racist comments. In 2016, he tweeted that Europe risked becoming ‘Eurabia” – a far right term linked to the ‘Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
Following a terrorist attack in Nice, where a Muslim man drove a truck into a crowd killing 86 people, he wrote “prayer is prayer it’s clear but the making of Eurabia out of Europe f**ks me off, we will not be able to defend ourselves with a minute of silence and protest marches.”
In 2015, Boniek attacked the anti-racist organisations Never Again and the FARE Network after UEFA sanctioned the Polish champions Lech Poznan when fans displayed a Nazi banner during a match. The team was fined €50,000 and forced to play their next match in an empty stadium.
In response, Boniek launched a campaign against “spies” and “snitches” – blaming anti-racist groups for reporting the banner, rather than the authors of the banner itself.
The attacks grew in volume, with Boniek sharing links to far right articles which accused a Never Again association memberi of being a “a red louse and commie spy”. The far right website from which the article was taken is committed to “preserving the white race.”
Rafal Pankowski from Never Again told Byline Times “we are appalled by the public statements of Mr Boniek who is both the head of the Polish FA and a high-level UEFA official. Yet again, he is obstructing anti-racist initiatives and putting subtle or not so subtle pressure on the Polish players not to express anti-racist solidarity together with their English counterparts.”
The match kicks off at Wembley at 19.45 tonight.