Soccer-Anger in Poland after Legia Warsaw players arrested in Netherlands

WARSAW (Reuters) -Dutch police have arrested two players from Polish soccer team Legia Warsaw following their Europa Conference League match against AZ Alkmaar, officials said, prompting an angry reaction in Poland.

Dutch police said they had detained a 28-year-old man from Serbia and a 33-year-old man from Portugal after Thursday’s match, which ended in a 1-0 victory for the Dutch side, and that they were still in custody.

“After the match, two Legia Warsaw players injured AZ employees who then needed medical care. These players have been detained on abuse charges,” the police, the prosecutors and the city of Alkmaar said in a joint statement.

According to Polish media reports the players concerned are Radovan Pankov and Josue. The players were pulled off the team coach and taken to a police station, police said.

Other Legia players and officials also turned violent when they were held up inside the stadium, as police tried to escort Polish fans away from the grounds, the local authorities said in their statement.

“Polish media are creating an image that players were the victim of police, but that’s far from the truth. The players themselves were violent,” the statement said.

Legia Warsaw fans had already attacked the police before the match, knocking one officer in riot gear unconscious as they violently stormed the stadium’s entry gate.

TVP reported that Legia president and owner Dariusz Mioduski was hit in the face by police while several members of Legia staff were hit with batons.

The incident caused waves at the highest level in Poland.

“I have ordered the foreign ministry to take urgent diplomatic action to verify the events of the night,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

“Polish players and fans must be treated in accordance with the law.”

(Reporting by Alan Charlish and Bart MeijerEditing by Gareth Jones)