Ararat-Armenia can play against Legia Warsaw at the end August. Of course, if both teams get promotion to the second qualifying round of Champions League next week.
To be a part of such scenario Ararat-Armenia should beat Cyprus side Omonia Nicosia in the first round and Legia do the same with Linfield FC. The Northern Irish champions were to face FC Drita from Kosovo on Tuesday in the preliminary round. But when Drita second player was tested positive for Covid-19, the qualifier has been called off. Because, according to UEFA protocol, the whole Kosovan team had to be put into quarantine, so Linfield FC got automatic promotion.
Legia won their fourteen Polish title in July as they were to do. For their fans only the championship is a matter, nothing else. So, every season expectations are very clear – the title is a must! No surprise for the richest Polish club with a budget almost 30 million euro.
Legia owner and chairman Dariusz Mioduski confirmed recently, that his club employ more that 400 people! It is a big football factory not only in Polish meaning. They need a lot of money to exist in normal way, so they need successes all the time. A season without playing in Europe could be a catastrophe.
Mioduski, a lawyer and a businessman, has a huge ambitions. He loves to talk about his club using such words like “business plan” or “vision”. In his vision Legia place is in Europe. As a vice-chairman of the European Club Association (ECA), a body representing the interests of professional clubs associated in UEFA, he likes to explain the future of European competitions. Last years he said (for: sportdziennik.pl) that he is “involved in a project which will re-definite football”. When he described the future option of playing Champions League games during the weekends instead of midweek fixtures, journalist asked about the possibility that maybe around 2035 Legia could play rather against Bayern than Gornik Zabrze on Saturdays. And Mioduski in serious way answered:
“We cannot say it is impossible, if Legia would be able to play that time on Bayern level. And of course we have such hopes”…
Important element of Mioduski vision is Legia Training Center opened 30 kilometers outside Warsaw, in Książenice, in July. It costed almost 25 million euro. Thanks to that the club got 6 naturals and 2 artificial pitches, full wellness infrastructure, indoor training hall, hotel with 22 four stars standard rooms and a dormitory for young players. Club academy must produce potential future stars for sell to earn money for exist. Like a goalkeeper 20-year-old Radosław Majecki sold to AS Monaco for, according to Polish media, seven million euro in January.
Legia, a big football factory based on detailed business plan, have another and totally different face as well. It is a dangerous face of their fans. When “France Football” magazine published in June a story about 30 most passionate stadiums in the world, Legia ground was among them on 25th position! But hottest atmosphere was many times too hot. Legia were regularly punished by UEFA for their fans’ behavior. Only in a few recent years they had to play in front of empty stands against Real Madrid, Ajax Amsterdam and Trabzonspor in Champions League and Europa League games!
Fans were a cause of problems during away games as well. In 2007 more than three thousand supporters from Warsaw travelled to neighbour Lithuania to watch their side in Intertoto Cup match against FK Vetra in Vilnius. During the break, with the half-time score at 2-0 for the hosts, Polish troublemakers invaded the pitch and started a total battle with police using stones and metal bars. After a half an hour match officials abandoned the game. The UEFA Control and Disciplinary Body decided that following “ugly and shocking scenes with police” Legia were excluded from the 2007 Intertoto Cup and banned from one future UEFA competition within the next five years.
But, on the other hand, fans’ support is fantastic during the whole games. There is even no moment of silence. And on “Żyleta” (“żyleta” means “razor-blade”, in a memory of a razor-blade advertisement above one stand at old Legia stadium) stand, occupied by the most devoted and troubled fans, a special celebration with huge banners are prepared regularly.
If Ararat-Armenia face Legia, the game will be played at Warsaw’s stadium once again in front of empty stands. But this time because of different reason – Covid-19, not another UEFA punishment for local fans’ behavior.
PS: Next week you can ask about the atmosphere at Legia stadium Omonia coach, Norwegian Henning Berg in Yerevan. He was working with Legia for almost two years, before being sacked in 2015.
Legia Training Center
Legia Training Center
Fans’ celebration during the Polish Cup final (2015)
Żyleta stand in action
Polish title celebrated by players (2016)
Clear message — FANATICISM
Polish title celebrated by fans (2017)
©2020 Dariusz Kurowski from Warsaw exclusively for Armenian Soccer