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Jonathan Wilson on football in Poland

6th April, 2011

Anyone curious about the state of the great game in Poland, one of the host nations for next year’s European Championship,would do well to have a listen to this Guardian podcast by Jonathan Wilson, journalist and author of Behind the Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football.

Six years after writing Behind the Curtain and finding Polish football at all time low, Jonathan Wilson returns to see how preparations for the 2012 European Championships are progressing.

Back in 2005, interest in the beautiful game was zero – but this wasn’t always the case. Jonathan meets the leader of the Solidarity movement and the first president of post-communist Poland. Lech Walesa, who explains how football was a symbol of resistance against the ruling Communist party.

After 1989, Polish football has mirrored the wild-west capitalism which dominates other walks of life. The sport has been plagued with match-fixing, the involvement of organised crime, and violence in the stands. Jonathan meets fans of Legia Warsaw, Ruch Chorzów striker Pawel Abbott, and legendary player Grzegorz Lato, now president of the Polish FA, to find out what’s being done to clean up Polish football.

Jonathan examines the new stadiums and tournament infrastructure which Poles hope will lead to a new era of football, which will symbolise a confident and prosperous new Poland.

Source: Guardian Focus Podcast

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