WARSAW, Poland. Apr 10 (AFP) – Attempts to oust the boss of UEFA EURO 2012 host Poland’s football association have stalled after rebels angry over a graft case failed to muster support for a vote against him.
The board of the association, or PZPN, opted not to consider a resolution to convene an extraordinary congress that could have axed Grzegorz Lato even as UEFA EURO 2012 looms.
Lato played for Poland in their long-lost glory days, helping notch up Olympic gold in 1972, silver in 1976, and World Cup third places in 1974 and 1982. With seven goals, he was the top scorer in the 1974 tournament.
But the iconic former international’s management style has raised hackles since he won the PZPN leadership in 2008, and critics have battle to axe him amid a corruption scandal in which he denies any involvement.
Calls for the 61-year-old to go have been countered by those who say that a high-profile coup would heap shame on Poland as it braces to host the European championships in June along with neighboring Ukraine.
“It would be a disgrace,” warned PZPN board member Zbigniew Lach.
The rebels, who needed a two-thirds majority of 12 votes on the 17-member board to force a congress, had earlier been gung-ho, saying they had at least 10 votes in the bag.
Instead of convening a congress, the board decided to discuss corruption at an April 18 sitting.
Lato had been seen as a new broom when he was elected in 2008 after the PZPN congress axed the former leadership following government pressure over graft, which has tarnished the Polish game for years.
There was therefore uproar when a recording leaked last November revealed alleged high-level graft at the PZPN. That led to the sacking of the PZPN secretary general, Zdzislaw Krecina, who had been at the association since the 1980s – and who denies any wrongdoing.
The recording was leaked by Grzegorz Kulikowski, a businessman once close to Lato, who said it was a set-up to expose corruption. This month he claimed that both Lato and Krecina took money which he had pretended was from another individual who wanted to sell the PZPN land for its new offices. Lato has rubbished the claim, saying that while Kulikowski left him an “envelope”, he never opened it, put it in the PZPN safe and took legal advice, filing a criminal complaint in January.
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