The origins of the Polish Football Association
Polish Football Association is the largest and one of the oldest Polish sports associations. The founding convention of Polish FA took place on 20 and 21 December 1919 in Warsaw. During the meeting, the Statute of the association was created and approved. Its authors were Józef Lustgarten, Jan Polakiewicz and Jan Weyssenhoff. The first president of the Association was Dr. Edward Cetnarowski, a famous Cracovia activist, and the first headquarters of the Polish Football Association was located in Cracow. Year later, regional football associations began to form.
In 1920, there were already four regional associations: in Cracow, Lviv, Poznan and Lodz. Football was becoming increasingly popular in the country by the Vistula River.
The Polish FA obtained FIFA membership
In 1923, the Polish FA obtained FIFA (International Federation of Association Football) membership, which resulted in the fact that a year later the Bialo-czerwoni competed at the Paris Olympics. Despite an unsuccessful performance, at the end of the year, 510 clubs, 17 000 athletes and 200 judges were registered in the Polish FA. In just three years, the number of professional players increased over sevenfold.
Split in Polish football
During the General Reporting Assembly of Polish FA, convened in February 1927 in Warsaw, clubs and Football Association were unable to reach an agreement. There was a split in Polish football - 14 top clubs formed the league. Only Cracovia, the president of which was the president of Polish FA Edward Cetnarowski, remained loyal to the Association. The first league match took place on April 2, 1927 in Warsaw - Warszawianka defeated Legia (4:1). Wisła Kraków won the league competition; the first relegated team was Aurora Kraków. Shortly after the tournament, Cracovia joined the league competition. Convened on 18 December 1927, the Extraordinary Meeting of Polish FA finally legitimized the league. In 1928, the Football Association headquarters was moved to Warsaw, and a year later, new regional associations were created: Bialystok, Polesia and Volhynia.
Debut in World Cup qualifiers
In 1934, our team made its debut in World Cup qualifiers, and four years later, for the first time in history, it has qualified for the finals of this event. In France, the Bialo-czerwoni lost their first game with Brazil, after extra time, (5:6). The hero of the meeting was Ernest Wilimowski, who scored four goals. However, the defeat - as it turned out later - to the world's third team meant a farewell to the championship finals.
Postwar reactivation of PZPN
Shortly after the war, on 29 June 1945, the Polish Football Association was reactivated in Cracow. Tadeusz Kuchar was elected president of Polish FA, and the representatives of seven districts attended the first meeting.
Reform of the league
In 1950, the historical names of clubs were replaced with the newly formed, artificial titles, created according to the prevailing political climate: Włókniarze (‘textile workers’) - ŁKS and Garbarnia, Kolejarze (‘railroaders’) - Lech and Polonia, ‘guard teams’ - Wisła, ‘union teams’ - Warta, ‘construction teams’ – AKS, and ‘military teams’ - CWKS instead of Legia. Year later, a breakneck statutory solution was introduced – although Wisła placed first in the league, the title of champion was awarded to Ruch Chorzów, the Polish Cup winner. The first edition of the revived tournament gathered almost 8,000 teams.
First triumphs of the national team
In 1957 when our footballers won in Chorzow against the Soviet Union (2:1) in World Cup qualifiers. The legendary Gerard Cieślik netted twice, and the victory became a demonstration in its political dimension.
Historical victories of the National Team
After the success of Polish clubs, the time has come for the national team. The Bialo-czerwoni, led by Kazimierz Górski, won the Olympic gold medal in Munich (1972), silver medal in Montreal (1976) and a medal for third place in the finals of the World Cup in Germany (1974). Tomaszewski, Deyna, Gadocha, Lato, Szarmach, Kasperczak, Gorgoń - those names were known all the world! This success was not properly exploited. The silver medal of coach Górski’s team in 1976 in Montreal was considered as a failure, and the distinguished coach gave way to Jacek Gmoch. To this day, football supporters wonder why the Bialo-czerwoni did not succeed at the World Championships in Argentina in 1978, having - seemingly - the strongest lineup in the history of Polish football. This year was not successful, not only because of the failure of the national team. The Polish Football Association president Edward Sznajder died in a car accident. The football by the Vistula River sank deep into crisis.
In 1991, Kazimierz Górski became the president of Polish FA, and four years later he was succeeded by Marian Dziurowicz. At the time, the biggest success was the silver medal, won by the team led by Janusz Wójcik at the Olympic Games in Barcelona (1992).
Reforms in the association’s law
In 1999, Michał Listkiewicz became president of Polish FA, and tried to introduce reforms in the association’s law. The changes in the game system (in 2001, split into groups: the championship group and the relegation group, later – reduction of the number of teams in the league to 14), introducing a licensing system, intended to adjust the structure of Polish clubs to the European requirements, implementing a uniform system of training for young players, improving the infrastructure – those were some of the tasks he set at the start of his term.
World Cup 2006
Four years later, similar fate befell the squad led by Paweł Janas. Despite great expectations from the fans and the media, the Bialo-czerwoni fell at the group phase of Weltmaisterschaft 2006. Subsequently, it was a Dutchman Leo Beenhakker, who took over the national team.
On the 8th of June 2012 Poland drew with Greece 1:1 in the inaugural game of the UEFA Euro 2012. Robert Lewandowski scored the only goal for the white-and-reds. On June 12, Poland drew with Russia 1:1 in the second match of Euro with Jakub Błaszczykowski, team’s captain, netting for Polish side. In the last game, which was to decide on the qualification for the quarter-finals, Polish National Team lost to Czech Republic 0:1 in Wroclaw.
On the 10th of July 2012 the board of the Polish Football Association selected a new Polish National Team head coach. Franciszek Smuda was replaced by Waldemar Fornalik, former coach of Ruch Chorzów.
25th of September 2012 president Grzegorz Lato stated that he will no longer be a candidate for reelection. “Everybody expected changes so they should be happy to hear my decision. I believe that what I am doing is for the best for the PFA, as well as for Polish football.”
Adam Nawałka – new head coach of the National Team
On the 16th of October 2013 due to the failed attempt to qualify for 2014 World Cup, the Polish Football Association decided to part ways with head coach Waldemar Fornalik. Ten days later, on the 26th of October, Adam Nawałka was selected as the new head coach of the Polish National Team.