Poland shuts stadiums in hooligan crackdown

WARSAW - Polish authorities have ordered cup finalists Legia Warsaw and Lech Poznan to play their next games behind closed doors in a crackdown against hooligans in the Euro 2012 co-host nation.

Provincial officials in Warsaw and Poznan, after recommendations from the police, decided fans will not be allowed to the upcoming Polish championship matches between Legia Warsaw and Korona Kielce as well as Lech Poznan against Gornik Zabrze.

"I know today's decision is harsh on true fans and is not favourable for players, who are victims of the hooligans. I would like this to be my first and last such decision," provincial governor Jacek Kozlowski said on Thursday.

Legia Warsaw president Pawel Kosmala was unhappy.

"The shutdown of Poland's safest stadium due to reasons given by the governor does not convince us," Kosmala told a news conference.

The decisions follow Prime Minister Donald Tusk declaring a tougher crackdown on a long-term hooligan problem in Poland, which will co-host next year's European championship with Ukraine.

Police deployed water cannon against fans who invaded the pitch and damaged the stands after Legia Warsaw won the cup final 5-4 on penalties against Lech Poznan on Tuesday in the northwestern Polish city of Bydgoszcz.

Organisers had decided to go ahead with the match despite police being concerned over safety.