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.
Gold medal at the Olympic Games
Led by the legendary coach Kazimierz Górski, the Polish national team won the gold medal at the 1972 Olympics. His team defeated Hungary 2-1 in the final, with both goals for the White-and-Reds scored by Kazimierz Deyna. (Photo by East News)
Spanish World Cup
In the least expected moment, when the country was under the martial law, the national team, under the leadership of Antoni Piechniczek, bounced back and brought the bronze medal from the Spanish World Cup. The Polish squad went to the next World Cup, but a positive result was out of reach, and afterwards, according to the "curse" by Zbigniew Boniek – the Poles would not be taking part in the finals of the biggest football event for another twenty years.
In 1988, Polish FA announced further reforms in the league. The Ekstraklasa was supposed to include 14 teams, the second league – 18 teams, and the third league - 64 (divided into four groups).
Youth football brought redemption. In 1993, Poland won the UEFA European Under-16 Championship (coach - Andrzej Zamilski). Polish footballers were runners-up in the same competition six years later and also collected the U-18 title in 2001 (coached by Michał Globisz).
World Cup in Korea
In the World Cup in Korea - Japan 2002 qualifiers, the Boniek’s "curse" lost its power, and the Polish national team, after 16 years of absence, advanced to the finals of the world championships. However, the performance during the tournament was not a successful one - despite the best hopes - the Poles, led by Jerzy Engel, did not forward to the qualifying group.
In 2007, Poland qualified for the first time to the European Championships. This can seem quite astonishing, but even for the "golden eleven”, coached by Kazimierz Górski, the qualifiers for the continental championship proved to be too much of a challenge. The Dutch coach of the Polish “Eagles” Leo Beenhakker managed to break through the powerlessness. The year 2007 brought an enormous success on the international level. UEFA decided to entrust the organization of Euro 2012 tournament to Poland and Ukraine. This was certainly one of the most important events in the history of Polish football, and still - one of the biggest challenges.
Zbigniew Boniek elected for the presidency of the PZPN
November 26th 2012, Zbigniew Boniek was elected for the presidency of the PZPN. He managed to get 61 votes which resulted in a win in the second round of voting. The runner ups were: vice president Potok, of the Lodzki ZPN (27 votes), Roman Kosecki (15) and Zdzisław Kręcina, the former secretary-general of the PZPN. Stefan Antkowiak, head of the Wielkopolski ZPN lost in the first round with 10 votes.
Historic victory of the White-and-Reds
11 October 2014 was a date that would go down in the history of Polish football. The Polish national team defeated Germany for the first time! Led by coach Adam Nawałka, the team won 2-0 at the National Stadium in Warsaw after goals by Arkadiusz Milik and Sebastian Mila.
EURO 2016 Quarter-finals
Despite the great start to the quarterfinal match of the European Championship, a goal by Robert Lewandowski and an incredible fight they had put up throughout the entire game, the Polish national team lost to Portugal 3-5 in the penalty shootout and thus concluded their run in EURO 2016. In the regulation game time, there was a 1-1 draw. Adam Nawałka's team could go back home with their heads held high – reaching the quaterfinals is the White-and-Red's biggest success in the history of their appearances in the European Championship.
Organisation of UEFA EURO U21
From 16 to 30 June 2017, the Polish Football Association held the UEFA Under-21 European Championship. The tournament took place in six cities: Gdynia, Bydgoszcz, Lublin, Kielce, Krakow and Tychy. Germany captured the trophy in the grand final after defeating Spain 1-0.
Appearance in the World Cup in Russia
At the World Cup in Russia, the Polish national team played against Senegal, Colombia and Japan. The White-and-Reds took the last place in the group and won a consolation game against Japan in Volgograd. The winning goal was scored by Jan Bednarek after an assist from Rafał Kurzawa.
U21 team's promotion to the UEFA European Championship
After many years of hiatus, the team coached by Czesław Michniewicz won a promotion to the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. The White-and-Reds took second place in the group and had to enter a knockout playoff against Portugal. They lost 0-1 in the first game in Zabrze, but defeated their rivals 3-1 in the rematch in Chaves. Poland is to face Belgium, Italy and Spain in the finals.