Poland conveys protest to ambassador over Dutch police 'discrimination'

According to Jabłoński, the Dutch ambassador said that she "completely agrees that the facts in this case need to be established." Zbigniew Meissner/PAP

The Polish foreign ministry has summoned the Dutch ambassador to a meeting on Saturday to express a protest over "discriminatory actions" taken by Dutch police against Polish footballers.

The Dutch police have confirmed to PAP that two members of the Polish football team had been arrested in connection with a disturbance in the northern city of Alkmaar following a match between the local club and Legia Warszawa on Thursday evening. Other Polish players complained about police brutality.

"We are dealing with very serious suspicions that there have been systemic actions by officers of the Dutch state and the city of Alkmaar against Polish citizens. I conveyed a protest to the ambassador against these actions, but also asked for the matter to be explained very thoroughly," Paweł Jabłoński, Poland's deputy foreign minister, told reporters after the meeting with Daphne Bergsma, the Dutch Ambassador to Poland.

"The point is," he added, "to ensure that people who are responsible for these types of actions bear the consequences and that the justice system simply takes appropriate action."

According to Jabłoński, the Dutch ambassador said that she "completely agrees that the facts in this case need to be established."

"She declared her full readiness to cooperate in this area," he said. "We hope that this readiness will translate into good cooperation between the Polish and Dutch services, and the evidence in the case will be collected quickly, and if it is indeed confirmed that these actions were not some incidental cases, but were of systemic nature, the guilty will be quickly punished."

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's prime minister, announced on social media on Friday that he had raised the issue with Mark Rutte, his Dutch counterpart, during an informal EU Council sitting and had been assured of a rapid clarification of events.

Morawiecki also recommended that the Polish foreign ministry take urgent diplomatic measures to clarify the matter.

Polish journalists present at the game, which Alkmaar won 1-0, said clashes erupted after police and security services decided to close the stadium, allegedly to prevent a collision with an organised group of Legia fans about to exit the ground.

Legia representatives, including players, apparently had their access to the team bus hampered, leading to verbal and physical altercations until police cordoned off the bus, which already had much of the team on board.

Two Legia players were reportedly removed from the team bus by Dutch police following altercations after the match in which several Legia team members were apparently assaulted.

The Dutch police said in a statement that Polish football fans stormed the stadium's gate before the match started and behaved aggressively, as quoted by the Polish private radio RMF FM.

On Friday evening, Bartosz Zaslawski, a Legia Warszawa spokesperson, confirmed that the two arrested footballers, Josue and Radovan Pankov, had been released and were on their way to Warsaw.

The Polish club was in the city to play a Europe Conference League match against AZ Alkmaar.

Welcome to The First News weekly newsletter

Every Friday catch up on our editor’s top pick of news about Poland, including politics, business, life and culture. To receive your free email subscription, sign up today.