Former Poland president Lech Walesa says the country’s co-hosting of Euro 2012 will be of a massive benefit off the field as well as on it.
With parts of the country still suffering from an economic downturn following the collapse of communism, Walesa reiterated exclusively to Goal.com that the money ploughed into the Polish economy fits in with the free state which he helped to create.
Speaking of his feelings about the European Championship being staged in his home country, the co-founder of the Solidarity Trade Union said: “I was a part of the organisational processes – I always thought that we need to unite different nations.
“Furthermore, Euro 2012 has sparked off many investments in this country. New things have been built, others were tidied up. It is this aspect of the tournament that interested me the most.”
Further confirming the importance of added investments, Walesa made his feelings clear on how something as politically trivial as a football tournament can benefit a whole nation – also praising the developments in his home town.
“Gdansk has changed dramatically. I sometimes wonder whether to leave my house or not – changes are such that I sometimes think I might get lost,” he said.
Surprisingly, with the buzz around the country for the football, the former leader is not one of the many millions tuning in to see all the action.
Despite the fact that football stadiums were a major recruitment hot-spot for the Solidarity movement and the fight against communism, he never really took to the beautiful game.
“I used to play football but my legs are rather short. That affected my running. As a result I usually ended up as a goalkeeper. I could jump very well and had quick reflexes,” Walesa said.
“But to be honest I was always amazed that an event which includes 22 people chasing the ball can be perceived as a national festival, as it is the case with many football games. I always thought that there were far more interesting things in the world.”
The 69-year old also had strong thoughts on the problem that has surrounded the country since BBC Panorama suggested racism and anti-Semitism was rife in Poland and Ukraine.
When asked how these problems could be solved, Walesa had a clear idea of his ideal solution: “Of course we need to punish all those people. But it would have been better to build common foundations uniting different nations and religions.
“From these foundations universal judicature, science and laws could be derived. That did not happen, so we have to focus on other solutions.
“If each state has different cultural foundations, it is difficult to work out universal solutions. The only option left is to punish offenders.
“It is necessary of course but for those foundations would be of the utmost importance. Only upon creating them would we be able to solve the problem. Punishing will not be enough.”
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