Polish football club Legia Warsaw has published footage showing its owner, Dariusz Mioduski, being manhandled and struck on the head by Dutch police after a game between AZ Alkmaar and Legia Warsaw on Oct. 5.
The treatment of supporters and staff of the Warsaw-based club has been roundly condemned in the Polish media and by both the governing conservatives and opposition politicians, all of whom have placed the blame on the local mayor and security services.
Legia claimed the published video footage, filmed during a UEFA European Conference League match, shows evidence of “xenophobia, discrimination, and aggression against Poles by the Dutch.”
During a news conference on Oct. 6, Dariusz Mioduski called the situation in the Dutch city of Alkmaar “an absolute scandal.”
“For many years I have gone to matches from Kazakhstan to Portugal and I have seen a few situations, for example, when our team bus was attacked by rival fans, but I have never seen the team, staff members, and management attacked by security and police. It is unprecedented on a global scale,” said the Legia owner.
According to eyewitnesses, players were prevented from leaving the stadium to get on their bus. When Dariusz Mioduski tried to mediate, he was jostled and then punched by security guards and police who laughed at him. When he told them he was the owner of Legia Warsaw, they ridiculed him.
Players were accosted by security guards, and two of them reacted by getting into a tussle with the security staff. After the footballers got on the coach, the police surrounded it and demanded that two players who had become embroiled in the fight leave the vehicle, threatening to storm it if their demands were not met.
The two players voluntarily left the bus and were then handcuffed and placed in police custody. Mioduski tried to intervene by offering to go to the police station with them but was shoved out of the way by the police.
The Dutch police later confirmed that there were two arrests in connection with a “disturbance” after the match. The two Legia players arrested, Serbian Radovan Pankov and Portuguese Josue Pesqueira, were subsequently released on Oct. 6 and have returned to Poland.
The Dutch police claimed that Polish football fans stormed the stadium’s gate before the match started and behaved aggressively, knocking an officer unconscious.
Ahead of the game, police declared the area around Alkmaar station and the stadium a safety risk and carried out preventative searches of Legia fans following reports some supporters were in possession of fireworks.
The Alkmaar mayor, Anja Schouten, has been accused of encouraging hostile treatment of Polish fans by saying before that game that they were not welcome in the city. There were reports that some fans were turned away from restaurants in the city and that fans had also been made to travel to The Hague to access the tickets for the game.
The Polish foreign ministry summoned the Dutch ambassador to a meeting on Oct. 7 to discuss “discriminatory actions” of the Dutch police against Polish footballers and fans, after Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki intervened. The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party in Poland has consistently argued that there is a need to tackle examples of “anti-Polonism” evidenced by blaming Poland for the Holocaust and derogatory and demeaning treatment of Poles in the EU.
UEFA is investigating the incident. The Dutch club AZ Alkmaar was fined €80,000 in July over the behavior of their fans during their Europa Conference League semi-final second leg against West Ham in May. AZ fans had attacked an area in which the West Ham players’ friends and family were seated, with players subsequently trying to intervene to protect them.