Human Zoo – Football Fans Forced to Watch Match from Inside Metal Cage

A football match between two teams from Poland’s third division received a lot of international attention last week, not for the quality of the football displayed by the players, but for the appalling conditions in which fans of the visiting team had to watch the game. Shocking photos show a group of supporters crammed in a large metal cage that some media outlets described as a human zoo.

Last week, around 100 supporters of Hutnik Krakow accompanied their team for an away game against Spartakus Daleszyce, in the Polish third football division, and found themselves locked in a large metal cage for the entire 90-minute game. According to Polish rules, supporters of the away team must be kept separated from fans of the team hosting the game, but they usually end up in an isolated sector of the stadium, or in a seating area divided by a high fence, to avoid violent clashes. However, Spartakus Daleszyce, is one of several Polish teams that have opted to keep away fans in metal cages. The controversial structure has actually been around for years, but it only recently attracted attention after photos posted on a popular Polish football fan website went viral online.

Photos: Szosti/StadionowiOprawcy.net

The photos were picked up by numerous sports news outlets in Europe and have been doing the rounds on social media for about a week. They show Hutnik’s ardent supporters struggling to follow the action on the pitch from behind the thick metal bars, with some climbing the structure to get a better view. One photo also shows Hutnik players coming over to the cage to shake their fans’ hands through the metal bars and celebrate their 1-0 victory over Spartakus.

UK-based independent football news site WhoAteThePie called the cage the “grimmest away section imaginable”, while some fans of Irish club Cardiff City said it reminded them of the conditions in which fans of rival clubs were confined to during the 1980s.

Photos: Szosti/StadionowiOprawcy.net

Inspired by the outrage expressed online, Artur Trębacz, president of Hutnik Krakow, sent a letter to the Security Committee of the Polish Football Association, decrying the way his team’s supporters were treated by Spartakus Daleszyce and comparing the cage to a zoo for wild animals.

“The fans were kept in a small cage made of thick bars reminiscent of cages for wild animals in the zoo,” Trębacz wrote. “We understand that security considerations are very important, but you can not go to extremes because such “constructions” certainly do not lead to the civilization of the stadium community.”

Photos: Szosti/StadionowiOprawcy.net

Representatives of the opposing team quickly responded, saying that they have been playing in the third division for a long time, but so far no visiting team had complained about the cage.

“We are not the only club that has such a solution for guests, it is worth mentioning here, for example, similar sectors in such cities as Turek, Opoczno or Łowicz,” Spartacus Daleszyce officials said. “The sector for supporters of visiting teams was built in accordance with the recommendations and requirements of the Police and the Safety Committee of the Polish Football Association. We take care of visiting team fans as best as we can, providing them with access to the toilet and an additional team of paramedics. Sometimes we give them a few water bottles, and, if requested, we even offer snacks.”


Photos: Szosti/StadionowiOprawcy.net