• Corruption and silence in Poland

    Viewing figures for Polish TV during the World Cup in Qatar are record-breaking. Over 8 million Poles watched Poland versus Saudi Arabia. Photo: Kuba Atys / Agencja Wyborcza.pl.

    The knowledge that Qatar most likely won the right to host the World Cup using bribes is widespread in Poland. Yet neither the Polish Football Association, nor anyone from the national team has ever seriously considered boycotting the championship because of this.

    An important reason for this silence might be that for years the Polish Football Association (PZPN) tolerated corruption in Polish football. Some of its members were even involved. Investigations are still ongoing. Last week, police detained two high-ranking Polish Football Association board members at Warsaw airport, who were on their way to Qatar for the Poland-Mexico match. The charges: fraud and money laundering.

    Polish national coach Czesław Michniewicz is also a controversial figure. The media revealed that in the past he had been in telephone contact more than 700 times with the representative of a Polish football team who was in charge of fixing matches during the first football league in the early 2000s.

    This was a huge scandal in which more than 600 people were charged: among them, footballers and coaches. A network pre-determined match results over the phone, with players dropping bribes to referees and the opposing team in the locker room before the game. Michniewicz was never charged, but he also never explained why he was in such frequent contact with the main suspect.

    Then again, the Polish public does not seem to require this of the coach. The calls to boycott the championships are quiet and the viewing figures for the matches on TV are record-breaking. Cezary Kulesza, CEO of the Polish Football Association said: “Teams can always boycott any tournament and simply not go to it, but how many of those will you find? No one will go as far as that.”

    It seems that neither ethics or transparency count at the World Cup, only results.

    This article is part of the "The beautiful game turns ugly" edition
    When disillusion kicks in
    Estonia's tragic football dinosaur
    Corruption and silence in Poland
    Number of the week: 10,000
    European double standards in Qatar