WKS Śląsk Wrocław have strongly criticised their own "fans" following a series of incidents that occurred on Sunday, one of which allegedly involved the mass theft of goods from a Biedronka store.
According to newspaper reports, police detained 19 so called WKS fans, four of whom were found to be in the possession of either drugs, expandable batons or pyrotechnics. The others were arrested following an alleged mass theft of goods at a Biedronka store in the town of Horodniany.
The majority of the aforementioned incidents took place during and after Śląsk Wrocław's away match against Jagiellonia Bialystok – a fixture in which Śląsk were embarrasingly thumped 4-1. Some 400 fans made the trip, which was only made available to those that took a special train service accompanied by a police escort.
Police arrest fans inside the Biedronka at Horodniany (photo © poranny.pl)
Even before the match took place, a heavily drunk 20-year-old who was trying to bring pyrotechnics into stadium was reportedly arrested. The authorities failed to prevent all the pyrotechnics from getting into the stadium however, as one firecracker was clearly thrown from the WKS end onto the pitch during the game.
After witnessing Śląsk's crushing defeat, the fans are said to have boarded a bus that would take them to the station where their special train was waiting for them. The travel didn't all go to plan though, as reports indicate that the bus broke down on the way to station.
The hooligans then reportedly spilled out onto the street, where they obstructed oncoming traffic. Moments later some of the group also went to the nearby Biedronka, where they allegedly insisted they would not pay for their shopping. The police then swiftly took action, surrounding the store and arresting 15 fans who were accused of shoplifting.
Interestingly, in a statement released yesterday, Biedronka did not comment on whether any crime actually took place in the store. Instead, the PR department at Biedronka choose merely to stress the fact that "none of the employees were hurt" during the incident and that "the store opened again the next day".
Newspaper reports cite the words of Kamil, an eye witness who claims to have seen "a battle between hooligans and police". Another eye witness, Krystian, is quoted as saying that the hooligans "massively plundered Biedronka like a herd of wild beasts".
A video of the police arresting WKS fans inside Biedronka has been published on the internet, however it does not show any evidence of the fans actually stealing anything.
The lack of any evidence will likely be used by some fans as a way of showing that those arrested in the store were unjustly detained. Nevertheless, the authorities at the football club have no doubts about what occured on Sunday, and yesterday they published a stinging statement that condemed the behaviour of some of the fans who attended the Jagiellonia match:
"In response to the shocking events that occurred on Sunday in the town of Horodnianach near Bialystok, on behalf of WKS Śląsk Wrocław we would like to firmly declare our desire to identify the perpetrators of this incident.
These "fans" of Śląsk Wrocław harm the good name of our club. Anyone who invades a store to steal goods and beat innocent people and resist the police can not be called a fan of Śląsk Wrocław.
The club is going through a difficult period in this moment in time, a time in which every true fan should support it. Those who attacked the shop in Horodniany are not fans of Śląsk. They are hooligans who have no interest in the club and its good name.
Wroclaw is a European city where such conduct does not fit within the realms of civilized behavior. Such behavior shows how long a road we have to go down before the club can improve its image in the eyes of the city's residents.
We send our apologies to the owner the of the store that was robbed. We also apologise to the residents of Wroclaw for the behavior of these people who, unfortunately, call themselves fans of Śląsk."
The statement of the club has so far recieved 366 "likes" on Facebook as opposed to just 5 "angries", indicating that the vast majority of fans back the words of the WKS board.
However if the comments section is anything to go by, some fans do not appear to be concerned by the incident. The consensus among this group seems to be that it is a bit rich of Śląsk Wrocław to criticise the supporters when the club's performance both on and off the pitch has been so poor. Others have described the reporting of the event as "sensationalised" and seem to believe that the fans are being victimised as part of a media witch-hunt.
Whatever you think about what occured on Sunday, there can be no doubt that these are dark moments for Śląsk Wrocław. The club are without a sponsor, the attendances at matches have dropped massively since 2012, while the team are hovering just 4 points above the drop zone.
The hierarchy at Śląsk are spot on with their analysis that they have a long road to go down to improve their image in the city. The road to improving the club's fortunes on the pitch appears to be equally long.