Fans of Poland’s Śląsk club from the city of Wrocław unfurled a banner with the slogan “It’s not our war” during a game in late February. The incident sparked controversy in Poland, as the sentiments expressed in the banner were allegedly introduced to the public via an anti-Ukrainian campaign led by Polish historian and commentator Leszek Sykulski.
On March 1, the league’s governing body decided to fine the club 15,000 PLN as punishment for the fans’ behavior. It argued that the fine was appropriate, as this was not the first time a banner of this kind had appeared. Back in October, fans of the club displayed one with the slogan “Stop the Ukrainization of Poland.”
The team released a statement about the incident, writing, “The banners displayed by any supporter groups are not the club’s position. WKS Śląsk Wrocław SA strongly dissociates itself from any political slogans and negatively evaluates their display during matches.”
The club has defended itself by arguing it did not know that such a banner would appear on the terraces of the stadium. It stated that since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Śląsk Wrocław has been active in supporting Poland’s eastern neighbor. It has provided financial support, and both players and staff have engaged in efforts to help refugees.
Although most of the Polish public is overwhelmingly supportive of Poland’s role in the Ukraine war, public support has waned to some degree. In addition, Wrocław has seen a disproportionate number of Ukrainians arriving, which may be helping to drive anti-Ukrainian sentiment. Some figures put the Ukrainian population of Wrocław as high as 28 percent.