Poland vs. Russia: Why Police Are on Alert for Euro 2012's Most Heated Match
With Russia and Poland, the rivalry extends beyond football.
Way beyond football.
When the two nations square off Tuesday in a Euro 2012 Group A match, the two nations will bring centuries of baggage with them. Accordingly, Polish police have increased their numbers ahead of the match.
Per an AFP report via Yahoo! Sports:
Police upped their numbers in Warsaw Tuesday as Poland prepared to play old foe Russia in a must-win Euro 2012 match on home turf, amid what authorities have dubbed their "greatest ever" security challenge.
Officers in central Warsaw were flagging down cars looking for banned items like weapons and flares and running identity checks on passengers, as well as fans in the street, AFP reporters said.
The two nations have been at odds since at least medieval times, starting with religious disputes between the Orthodox Russians and the Catholic Poles. Poland attempted to conquer Russia in the 17th century, and Imperial Russia partitioned Poland three times in the 18th century.
The Soviets fought Poland shortly after taking power in 1917 and massacred thousands of Polish citizens during World War II.
Complicating matters, June 12 is Russia's National Day, which marks the re-emergence of the sovereign Russian nation following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Also, Russian fans attacked stewards following their team's opening 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic on Friday. The incident earned the Russian FA a charge of "improper conduct" from European governing body UEFA.
Kickoff between Russia and Poland is scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET on Tuesday in Warsaw.
UPDATE: The trouble reportedly has begun hours before kickoff.
From BBC journalist Ben Smith, via Twitter:
And from Fox Soccer's Jamie Trecker:
Fights on bridge very tense water cannons out— Jamie Trecker (@JamieTreckerFOX) June 12, 2012
UPDATE: 1:30 p.m. ET Tuesday: English broadsheet the Daily Telegraph is reporting on today's violence.
According to the report, thousands of Russian fans marched across a bridge over the Vistula in Warsaw in commemoration of Russia Day.
Polish fans felt the march was "a provocative demonstration," and violence broke out between rival supporters' groups.
Several incidents have been reported, and police have used tear gas and water cannons on disorderly fans. No deaths have been reported yet, but the Telegraph reports "several" injuries.
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