Poland's PZPN football association needs a major shake up, Sports
Minister Joanna Mucha said on Tuesday, upping the pressure on its
embattled chief Grzegorz Lato after a poor Euro 2012 showing.
Lato, a former playing icon whose star has fallen during four
years in charge of the PZPN, is set to announce at the end of
this week whether he will seek a new term when the association
holds a leadership election in October.
Two weeks ago, as co-hosts Poland crashed out of Euro 2012 in the
group stage, Mucha had pressed Lato to make good on an earlier
pledge to step down if the team failed to make it to the
knock-out round of the European championship.
"There's absolutely no conflict. Neither with the PZPN, nor with
its president," Mucha underlined on Tuesday.
"I'm simply demanding, or rather calling on, the PZPN to ring the
changes. Because change is needed. Change will benefit Polish
football, the organisation and all of us," the 36-year-old
Lato, 62, has long been under fire in the Polish media for
alleged bad management and claims of corruption at the PZPN,
which he denies.
Demands that he fall on his sword have mounted in the wake of
Poland's disappointment Euro 2012, when they managed only draws
with Greece and Russia and then lost to the Czech Republic.
Many fans had dreamed of the tournament on home soil marking a
revival of the country's long-lost footballing glory days of the
1970s and early 1980s.
Lato is a symbol of that golden age, having been top scorer at
the 1974 World Cup, where Poland came third.
His election as PZPN president in 2008 raised hopes that Poland
might finally end their long tournament drought.
It also stoked expectations of far-reaching reforms of a Polish
football scene plagued by graft and a dearth of decent youth
academies to develop young talent.
The government is keenly aware that it cannot move against the
PZPN due to rules set down by football's global body FIFA that
ban what is seen as political interference in the game.
It fell foul of those regulations in 2008 when it ousted the
previous PZPN board for allegedly doing too little to fight
match-fixing and failing to pay taxes.
The government asked the Polish Olympic Committee's arbitration
tribunal to appoint an administrator to run the PZPN, but backed
down after FIFA threatened to ban Poland from international
The bitter dispute was defused when the PZPN held a leadership
election in October 2008, voting in Lato.