Manchester: Hooliganism is causing a "huge image problem" for European Championship co-host Poland with every round of league matches marred by crowd trouble, a UEFA executive said on Wednesday.
Ahead of the influx of football fans in the country next year, Polish authorities have vowed to adopt a zero tolerance toward hooliganism.
But the ongoing struggle to eradicate violence among Polish fans was highlighted when they clashed with police in Lithuania around a friendly on Friday. About 60 Poles were detained for throwing bottles, flares and benches at police and security guards. One guard was injured.
"We are looking very carefully at the situation because there are many activities on the hooligan scene in Poland," said Martin Kallen, UEFA's Euro 2012 operations director, at the SoccerEx conference on Wednesday.
"What we saw at last Friday's match was not a very good picture to see that happening in a stadium."
Poland, which is co-hosting the tournament with Ukraine, has announced plans to use fast-track trials by video linkup during the tournament. Fans also have to be on a central database to buy tickets, part of a bid to deny potential troublemakers.
"On the hooligan side we are concerned, but I also know the Polish government is concerned," Kallen said. "They know they have a problem — they have a huge image problem. There are always hooligans around every match day in the league but the government is making the right steps for the future."
Marcin Herra, the head of the Polish organizing committee, said the "minority cannot spoil the event for the majority."
"The new legislation allows us to work much more precisely against those hooligans," Herra said. "There will be zero tolerance to make sure that 500 people cannot spoil the event for one million people."
Kallen doesn't expect the same troublesome supporters who disrupt Polish league matches to make it into Euro 2012 stadiums.
"Different people will be coming to matches — there will be more families," he said. "The Euro is a party and in many areas there is more a problem on a daily basis for club matches. But clearly we are facing some challenges."
Kallen also told the conference in Manchester that some of the pledges made by Poland and Ukraine about infrastructure developments would not be kept. With many new motorways and roads not ready, fans will have to take diversions to reach venues.