FROM organising bare-chested fights in the forests to rioting in the streets with knives and bats, Poland has some of the most notorious hooligan firms of any nations competing in the World Cup.
While hooliganism in the United Kingdom has largely been consigned to the dustbin of history, Polish Ultras firms have drawn comparisons with the bad old days of the 1980s in Britain.
HooliganstvPolish hooligan firms are some of the most fearsome in the world – hosting training fights in forests[/caption]
RedditPolish cops have often seized knives, machetes and axes from hooligans[/caption]
HooliganstvPoland has been cracking down on the culture of violence[/caption]
Hooligan trouble is not expected during the game with many Ultras subject to bans – but the hoolies still carry a fearsome reputation.
Murders and brutal attacks have been associated with the firms – including one hooligan was stabbed 64 time with knives and machetes, and another who had his hand CHOPPED OFF.
Famous hoolie firms in Poland include Destroyers, Sharks, Terror Corps, Teddy Boys and Young Freaks ’98.
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Poland’s most infamous ultras firms come from Krakow, where fans of rival teams Wisla and MKS Cracovia maintain an often-violent derby.
Such is the level of hostility between the two sides, that the Krakow derby is referred to as the Holy War.
Unlike the beery hooligan stereotype in England, Polish ultras often maintain a straight-edged lifestyle with no drinking or even smoking, claiming that it makes them “weak”.
In the runup to a match between England and Poland in 1999 in the Polish capital Warsaw, seven English fans were hospitalised after fierce clashes.
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At least two supporters were stabbed after thugs threw bottles, bricks, and metal poles at each other.
The brawl in central Warsaw’s Saski Park was reportedly prearranged, with one Polish hooligan claiming the clashes were set up by mobile phone.
Two more England fans were taken to hospital following a separate incident where thugs hurled bricks and bottles at rival supporters near a pub in the Old Town.
Running battles also took place inside the stadium itself, despite a heavy police presence.
A Polish hooligan known as “Jack” said at the time: “The Polish fans will do anything for a fight. They speak to each other on mobiles all the time. It’s all pre-arranged.
“Supporters of Legia Warsaw have been going around the last two nights looking for trouble.”
Krakow is by far the most notorious city for ultras in Poland, even earning the nickname City of Knives.
This is because the Wisla and Cracovia firms are the only ones who didn’t sign the so-called “Poznan Agreement”.
The peace treaty, signed by all other Polish firms nationwide, agrees that they won’t use weapons during fights.
In 2010, police in Lodz searched a train of Wisla supporters and recovered a terrifying haul of weapons.
They included 25 machetes, a military bayonet, three axes, four knives, and two 70cm-long wooden handles.
Football hooligansFootball violence exploded in Poland in the 1990s[/caption]
Football hooligansThe rise in hooliganism was associated with economic problems[/caption]
HooliganstvHooligan firms often have fearsome names and equally mean reputations[/caption]
HooliganstvThe hooligans are often a far cry from the traditional image of beer-swilling thugs[/caption]
However, despite their fearsome reputation, Polish ultras can also have a softer side.
Krzysztof, a hooligan supporter of Slask Wroclaw, met grandmother Mariola through a class, and even though she supported rival team Ruch Chorzow, the two fell in love.
They made an unlikely couple. She was a grandma and ran her own business, he was a convicted hooligan who had served eight years in prison for robbery and football-related violence.
Their romance was even the subject of an HBO documentary, “Love Without Argument”, in 2012.
But a devastated Mariola revealed last year that they had split up after her toyboy ultra lover cheated on her with an older woman.
However, with a slightly more muted atmosphere than normal at the World Cup and a strong use of a football banning orders, no hooligan trouble is expected.
Qatar has drafted in an impressive ragtag police force made up of cops from around the world – including notorious French riot police and tough Turkish commandos.
But there have already been some crowd problems – with riot police deployed to manage a fan crush outside the Fifa Fan Festival zone in Doha.
Qatar has already faced questions over organisation of the World Cup – with reports weeks before the start that the nation simply was not ready.
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The tiny country is expected to welcome more than one million fans during the tournament – when the country only has a population of 2.9million.
Billions have been spent to try and ready the nation for its first attempt at holding an event of this scale.
One famous Polish ultra – Krzysztof – appeared in the documentary ‘Love Without Argument’