Home > EURO 2012, Travel > Careful now – the policing in Poznan

Careful now – the policing in Poznan

Poznan’s main square last Sunday was some sight to behold. You were either wearing red & white or green or else you were in the wrong location.

The thousands of Croatian fans had their red & white colours on show with red top hats, red & white chequer-board overalls or a Hrvatska flag wrapped around their waists. For the Irish it was Trapattoni masks, green wigs and lots of tricolour face paint.

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As is usual for an Ireland away game, the main square was the focal point for the pre-match festivities for the Green Army. The difference this time was that the square was shared with the legion of Croatian fans who had mobilised from the Balkans. In Poznan’s historic main square, from every point hung a Croat or Irish flag and both sets of fans mingled freely, chatting and discussing the finer points of their teams playing 4-4-2 or so it seemed!

They sung, we sung. They drank, we drank. They were definitely the more confident of the two sets of fans on the outcome of the game and as it turned out that confidence was well justified after the 3-1 win to Slaven Bilic’s men.

There was a third force also in and around the main square throughout our time in Pozan and that was the police. Pockets of Poznan police were strategically located around the main square in full riot gear wearing helmet and body armour including shin guards a lot bigger than Robbie Keane has. At night, the lights of the square reflected off their visors and riot shields that they carried. Some also had tear gas canisters and rubber bullet guns visible.

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Each cohort had someone with a small digital camcorder recording the fans around them. They will have lots of footage of Irish fans shoes in the air singing “shoes off for the boys in green!”

I’ve seldom seen such a visible police presence away from a stadium ahead of a game and they were called into action on the eve of the match. There were lots of rumours about neo-nazis and Polish football fans fighting amongs themselves. I saw the police backup arrive under blue sirens and screeching tires from 20 or so police vans, jumping out to line up in formation. It seems they were probably being deployed to protect Irish fans.

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They did move on elsewhere some Irish fans who were jumping around under a massive umbrella in an outside bar in the main square too vigorously but that’s not exactly major trouble. What is in no doubt though is that ten Poles and three Irish were arrested that night but the local mayor played it down saying that with that amount of fans and that amount of drink it was inevitable.

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Having said all that the police were still happy enough to be photographed beside smiling Irish fans who were mostly amused by the sight of all the robocops. The moment of the night had to go to the two Irish lads pictured in front of a big group of riot police in the square holding up a couple of home made signs saying in Father Ted style “Careful now” and “Nothing to see here”! Do tournaments miss out when Ireland don’t make it. Probably and Moments like that seem to justify the self-proclaimed ‘best fans in the world’ tag.

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