Friday, March 20, 2009

UEFA to finally crackdown on Poland’s corrupt football?

UEFA has sent a letter to Poland’s football association (PZPN) demanding details of the ongoing investigation into widespread corruption within the Polish game.

UEFA wants to receive a list of referees arrested since the investigation started back in 2005, information on charges levelled against them and a report by PZPN on its actions in connection with the scandal.

Officially no threats have been made against PZPN but one possible sanction in UEFA’s power is to impose a supervisor to oversee the investigation.

Up until now UEFA has appeared to trust PZPN to conduct the investigation unsupervised. When the Polish government stepped in last year and suspended the football associations board of governors, the European body threatened action against Warsaw - including suspension from international competition - complaining that sports associations must be independent of political pressure.

Critics said at the time that EUFA appeared to endorse PZPN’s lack of tough action over the corruption investigation and was hindering the government in its efforts to cleanse the association of sleaze.

Since then more arrests have followed, bringing a total of around 170 arrests of referees, managers and players at all levels of the game into custody. Last week a former coach of one of Poland’s biggest clubs, Wisla Krakow, was arrested, accused of match fixing.

But out of concern for its own image and in the light of Poland being given the right to co-host the EURO 2012 a sense of urgency has finally entered into UEFA’s actions.

Officials are already feeling a cold wind being blown from UEFA as not a single Polish referee is to officiate at matches in the European Champions League this year.