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Legia Warsaw duo freed after arrests in Holland

Legia Warsaw duo freed after arrests in Holland
  • PublishedOctober 6, 2023

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Two Legia Warsaw players have been released after being detained for almost 24 hours in the Netherlands following a European game, the Polish club said Friday.

The players, Josué of Portugal and Radovan Pankov of Serbia, were taken off the team bus and detained Thursday after allegedly injuring a steward following a Europa Conference League match at AZ Alkmaar, which also saw scuffles between visiting supporters and police.

Legia Warsaw said on X, previously Twitter, that the two are “returning to Poland.”

Earlier, Poland’s government and football authorities protested the detentions and demanded explanations from Dutch authorities.

Poland’s Foreign Ministry said it has summoned the Dutch ambassador to a meeting on Saturday over the incident.

Dutch police said in a statement that, contrary to previous security agreements with their Polish counterparts and the club, Legia supporters had arrived to the game in a disorganized way and stormed the gates, injuring three police officers, one of whom lost consciousness. Powerful fireworks were found on some supporters, threatening security, the police said.

Some supporters grabbed batons and pepper gas from the police, and got in without tickets, the Dutch police statement said.

After the match, the police sealed some exits, leading to clashes, according to Polish reporters.

Dutch police and Alkmaar city authorities said in the statement that Josué and Pankov were taken off the team bus by police because they had injured a steward who later required medical attention. The two players remained in custody while the rest of the squad returned to Poland.

Dutch Chief Public Prosecutor Digna van Boetzelaer said that the arrest decision “was not taken lightly and was discussed in advance with the police. These are suspects of serious criminal offenses, which the Public Prosecution Service will carefully assess — as in every aspect.”

The Dutch side are blaming Legia and their fans for having started the chain of aggression that led to the scuffles with police after Legia lost 1-0 to Group E rival Alkmaar on Thursday.

An investigation had been launched, they said.

Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who is campaigning ahead of Oct. 15 parliamentary elections, said he had tasked Poland’s diplomats to investigate the matter.

Morawiecki said on X, previously Twitter, that “Polish players and fans must be treated according to law. We do not agree to law violations.”

The secretary general of Poland’s PZPN Football Federation, Lukasz Wachowski, said he is demanding explanations from his Dutch counterparts and the European soccer body UEFA.

UEFA said it was gathering evidence to consider possible disciplinary cases. Clubs are held responsible for their fans’ behavior at stadiums for European games.

Legia president Dariusz Mioduski also received rough treatment from the police, the Polish reports added. Mioduski is a Harvard-educated lawyer and a member of the management board at the Court of Arbitration of Sport.

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