Polish football fans attack Roma community on match day

Football fans in Gdansk have led a violent attack against a Roma community settled a few kilometres from the Stadion Energa Gdansk, home to Lechia Gdansk, moments before and after the premier league encounter between the home team and Legia Warsaw on Wednesday 11 May.

The harassment campaign started hours before the Polish League encounter when a group of football fans arrived at the community’s settlement throwing stones and threatening they would come back to kill them and burn the settlement.

The attack and threats were communicated to the police by the NGO Gdansk's Support Center for Immigrants (CWII), who were in contact with the Roma community. Police ensure the NGO they would secure the area but the harassment continued after the match.

About 15 people of the Roma community, including five children, where forced to seek refuge in a forest nearby, where they stayed until 2 am, while the group of fans destroyed the property.

“We were very scared of these people, so some of us took their belongings and ran to hide in a forest nearby. Tomasz Nowicki of CWII informed the police but no one came to help us, we feared for us and our children” explained a Roma woman.

Moments after the second attack was launched, CWII informed again the police.

Tomasz Nowicki said: “I think it is outrageous to ignore such requests when it is known that on match days minorities are vulnerable to violent attacks from fan groups.”

Police support arrived the following morning. Police officials said initial steps were taken the night before to address the situation and a that patrol car was sent to the settlement after the second report, claiming that officers did not find anyone on the site on arrival.

"We fear they will come again and that this time something bad happens to our children. We do not know what to do. I do not know yet if we will stay here or if we will move.” said another Roma woman following the incidents.

The attack is now being investigated by the city’s police. In July 2014 a similar attack terrorised the small Polish community of Andrychow, where polish football fans started an anti-Roma campaign that lasted over a month. The campaign began with a rally where the chant “Cyganies raus” (Gypsies or Roma out) was heard and it continued with social media and intimidation.

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