During the biggest open-air free music festival in Europe, Pol’and’Rock (4-6 August), also known as Polish Woodstock, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association organized a football tournament promoting the message of ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of the Stadiums’, involving teenage players who are refugees from Ukraine. Together with the other participants, they manifested their protest against the war.

On another festival day a meeting was held with the rock band Strachy na Lachy (Empty Threats) at the information stand of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. For many years, this group has been involved in the activities of the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign run by ‘NEVER AGAIN’. Krzysztof ‘Grabaz’ Grabowski, the leader of Strachy Na Lachy, explained his band’s involvement in support of the refugees from Ukraine after the outbreak of the war. Some of the musician’s family came from Volhynia (a previously Polish territory, now a region in Ukraine). In press interviews, ‘Grabaz’ emphasised the importance of having neighbours of different nationalities and how it can lead to outbursts of creativity: ‘If in some place different cultures coexist peacefully with each other, then they will undoubtedly develop that place and its culture’.

– ‘During our meeting with Strachy Na Lachy, we talked primarily about war and peace, about respect and prejudice in everyday life, about hate speech and how it can lead to violence. We asked the band to explain how music can create a better world,’ said Joanna Naranowicz, a representative of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and the lead singer of the punk band Qulturka.

Strachy na Lachy was established in 2001 by Krzysztof ‘Grabaż’ Grabowski and Andrzej ‘Kozak’ Kozakiewicz who also play in a punk-rock group Pidzama Porno. It is one of the most famous rock bands in Poland. In 2014 the band’s leader, ‘Grabaz’, was awarded with the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta – one of the highest honours in Poland, for his ‘outstanding merits in creative work and artistic activity’.

During the Pol’and’Rock Festival, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association had the honour of hosting many other bands of different music styles involved in the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign.

The ‘Lets’ Kick Racism out of the Stadiums’ tournament has been organised for over twenty years by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association at the Polish Woodstock/Pol’and’Rock Festival. In 2022 it was co-organized with the grass-roots football team FC GAN Pila and supported by FARE network and the Adidas Football Collective through its grassroots support programme. Tournament’s male and female participants jointly express their support for the ideas that guide the entire festival: peace, friendship and respect for diversity. This year, the message resonated particularly strongly with young players from Ukraine who had had to flee the cruelty of war.

During the Pol’and’Rock Festival, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association also organised educational workshops on volunteering and supporting refugees. At NEVER AGAIN’s information stand, there were also practical worskhops on designing anti-racist DIY sew-on patches and t-shirts with the use of stencils and paints. The resulting items of clothing with the message ‘Music Against Racism’ were presented to the participants!

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against antisemitism, racism and xenophobia, and for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally. ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has conducted the first anti-racism campaign in Eastern European football, ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums’ and is a founding member of the FARE network.

The campaign ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’ was a brainchild of the late Marcin Kornak (1968-2014), who chaired ‘NEVER AGAIN’ for many years. ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’ has run since the mid-1990s with the aim to combat racism and discrimination at stadiums. One of its main components is monitoring and reporting of hate crimes and hate speech cases.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association also encourages musicians, record labels and promoters who are interested in releasing music tracks or videos as well as organising concerts (including online) with the promotional support of the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign to get in touch via email: info@neveragainassociation.org .

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The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association, which runs the campaign ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’, held an online debate on fighting antisemitism and bigotry at stadiums in Poland and Europe.

Antisemitism continues to be a serious issue, both inside and outside football stadiums, in Poland and worldwide. However, more often than not it is also glossed over by football associations and the media. Participants in the debate presented the results of the international educational project ‘Changing the Chants’, conducted in cooperation with Anne Frank House (Amsterdam, Netherlands) and two football clubs: Borussia Dortmund and Feyenoord Rotterdam.

The debate was opened by Dr Rafal Pankowski, professor at Collegium Civitas and co-founder of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association and Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network.

Hate crimes at Polish stadiums were discussed by Dr Anna Tatar, co-author of the ‘Brown Book’ and a member of ‘NEVER AGAIN’. – ‘Antisemitic flags, symbols and chants have been used by football hooligans for many years with little or no punishment. What is striking is the failure to react from football authorities, club boards and city governments, which provide financial support and facilities to football clubs’ – she said.

Dr Wojciech Wozniak of the University of Lodz presented the results of the ‘Changing the Chants’ project. Its objective is to understand the role of non-formal education provided by sports clubs in combating antisemitism. Good practice developed on the basis of experiences and collaborations with clubs from various countries will allow the creation of friendly and open football fan communities in Europe and beyond. The project received support from the EU programme ‘Rights, Equality and Citizenship’.

Later in the debate, the floor was taken by Dr Maciej Kozlowski, former Polish Ambassador to Israel and author of the book ‘Chosen People – Cracovia Cracow: The Multi-Cultural History of Polish Sport’ (published by ‘NEVER AGAIN’ in 2015). He discussed the role of Jews in Polish football, their contribution to the development of the sport, and involvement in establishing the first Polish clubs and competitions. He also provided examples of Polish players with Jewish origins: Jozef Lustgarten, Ludwik Gintel and Leon Sperling, all of whom were successful members of the Polish national team.

The discussion was summed up with observations on the rise of antisemitism and xenophobia by Dr Sebastian Rejak of the American Jewish Committee – Central Europe Office.

The discussion was organized by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association in partnership with the  Fare Network and AJC – Central Europe.

This year, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association celebrates 25 years of activity. ‘NEVER AGAIN’ is an independent anti-racist organization founded in Warsaw in 1996, which has campaigned against antisemitism, racism and xenophobia, and for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally.

The campaign ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’ was a brainchild of the late Marcin Kornak (1968-2014), who chaired ‘NEVER AGAIN’ for many years. ‘Let’s Kick Racism out of Stadiums’ has run since the mid-1990s with the aim to combat racism and discrimination at stadiums. One of its main components is monitoring and reporting of hate crimes and hate speech cases.

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#wykopmyrasizm #changingthechants


After a break in live-audience football games caused by the epidemic, racist slogans and banners have returned to stadiums. The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association noted a surge in activity of those who use football to manifest their endorsement of Janusz Walus, a Polish-born far-right activist serving a life sentence for a racist murder in the Republic of South Africa.

During a top flight match between teams Lechia Gdansk and Legia Warszawa (15 July), hooligans from Gdansk again displayed a banner with Walus’s name and picture and the slogan ‘Nothing will break you, you’re not alone’ and faced no consequences. No disciplinary action was taken by the Polish football authorities despite this being yet another display of racist propaganda in the Lechia Gdansk stadium. The city authorities, who financially support Lechia and rent out the stadium in question, have also failed to react.

In 1993, Walus murdered Chris Hani, a Black politician who fought to end the apartheid in South Africa. The assassin was a member of racist organizations. He was sentenced to the death penalty, subsequently changed to a life sentence (capital punishment was abolished in South Africa in 1995). The murder, plotted by the far-right, was intended to start a civil war. The list of future potential victims of Walus included Nelson Mandela.

– ‘It is astounding that football hooligans can display support for a racist murderer at Polish stadiums unpunished. Slogans and flags bearing praise for Walus have been appearing on the stands for a couple of years now’ – comment representatives of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. – ‘After a short summer break matches will recommence on 22 August. Let’s hope things will change’.

NEVER AGAIN’ activists note that, in contrast to many sports clubs worldwide, Polish clubs have not supported the international anti-racist campaign Black Lives Matter. An exception was a fourth division club Polonia Sroda Wielkopolska – its players knelt on the pitch and thus honored the memory of George Floyd, a Black American killed by a police officer. Under a short note published on 5 June on Polonia’s Twitter profile, which included a picture of the footballers and an invitation to other clubs to join the campaign, almost all the comments were negative and vulgar, including: ‘whack yourselves in the head’, ‘I see you bambers [Poles who descended from Germans, now living in the Poznan area – translator’s note] are f.cked up’, ‘please untag Legia and don’t involve it in this pathology’, ‘don’t even try to include Lech Poznan in this sick campaign’, ‘go kiss n.gro’s shoes’, ‘you’re f.cked up. I hope that n.gros destroy your asses’, ‘F.ck, my city made such an embarrassment of itself’, ‘Shame for all of Sroda Wielkopolska and its inhabitants’.

NEVER AGAIN’ has led the ‘Let’s kick racism out of the stadiums’ campaign since the mid-1990s. Its originator was the late Marcin Kornak (1968-2014), the president of the Association for many years. The campaign aims to fight racism and discrimination in football. An important part of the campaign is monitoring racist incidents and informing the public about them.

In recent years and months, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association noted many banners and flags flown during matches, displaying praise for Janusz Walus. These were exhibited by hooligans from many clubs including Rakow Czestochowa, Chelmianka Chelm, Pogon Szczecin and Legia Warszawa, among others. A real scandal occured on 21 March 2019 during a UEFA European Championship qualification game in Vienna between the Austrian and Polish national teams. Polish hooligans associated with Wisla Plock displayed a banner calling for ‘Freedom for Janusz Walus’ with a photo of the murderer. The match was played on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, proclaimed by the United Nations to commemorate victims of the racist apartheid system.

In Poland, sympathizers of extreme nationalism publicly support Walus also away from the context of sports, for example at street demonstrations. On 1 March 2020 in Bydgoszcz, a march to honor the memory of the so called ‘Cursed Soldiers’ (a group of anti-communist guerrillas which operated in Poland after 1945) was held and its participants carried banners saying: ‘Janusz Walus. The last of the Cursed Soldiers’ and ‘Death to the enemies of the homeland’ (a slogan calling for ideologically-motivated violence). The march was headed by the city council member Jerzy Mickus, a member of the Zawisza Football Association’s board (a local football club).

Another march took place on 18 July 2020 in Katowice, where participants, including members of the National Radical Camp (ONR), shouted out ‘Janusz Walus is our role model’, as well as ‘Death to the enemies of the homeland’ and ‘We will abolish democracy’. They also displayed banners with slogans: ‘It is ok to stay white’ and ‘National Cleansing Front’ along with the Celtic cross – a racist symbol. The demonstrators carried a flag with a Nazi symbol called the Black Sun.

The popularity of Walus is also expressed in gadgets sold on the internet. For example, on the Polish online sales platform OLX one can purchase fan stickers with the name of the murderer and slogans commending his actions. OLX belongs to a South African media and technological internet group, Naspers. For many years, the company had actively supported propaganda upholding the apartheid. However, sales of items praising Walus are being removed from another major online sales platform, Allegro (previously also owned by Naspers), thanks to the intervention of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association.

On 16 March 2020, the Minister of Justice of South Africa, Ronald Lamola, upheld the decision of his predecessor and denied Walus parole. Walus never expressed full remorse for his crime.

Polish members of parliament, tied to extremist nationalist circles, have campaigned for Walus’s release. In May 2016, MP Robert Winnicki (former leader of the far-right group All-Polish Youth and currently member of the Confederation party) filed a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in which he demanded the Polish government take ‘appropriate steps to negotiate the immediate release of Janusz Walus’ and arrange his return to Poland. Similar requests calling for government intervention were submitted by other right-wing MPs, Tomasz Rzymkowski, Bartosz Jozwiak and Sylwester Chruszcz.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association is an independent organization established in Warsaw in 1996. It has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally.

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The European Parliament has adopted a resolution in which it calls the national sports federations and football clubs to counter the scourge of racism, neo-fascism and xenophobia in stadiums and in the world of sport by condemning and punishing those responsible and by promoting, in cooperation with schools and civil society organizations, positive educational activities aimed at young sport fans.

In addition, the European Parliament 'supports and praises social groups and civil society organizations fighting against fascism, racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance and calls for their protection’.

The resolution was adopted on 25th October 2018 in connection with the increase in the number of neo-fascist acts of violence in Europe. Through the resolution, the Parliament also expresses its deep concern over the 'impunity with which neo-fascist and neo-Nazi groups operate in some Member States’ and calls for robust condemnation and punishment of hate crimes.

Rafal Pankowski, co-founder of the ’NEVER AGAIN’ Association, was involved in preparing the contents of the resolution.

In October 2018, the Polish football authorities had cancelled an anti-racism campaign in the Polish stadiums. The initiative aimed to show players and referees opposing intolerance and racial prejudice, but it was met with opposition from several clubs which have a track record of racist incidents at their matches. The action was to take place during the ‘Football People’ Action Weeks organized across Europe by the Fare network with the support of UEFA.

Since 1996, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has conducted the first anti-racism campaign in Eastern European football, ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums’ and is a founding member of the Fare network.

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Parlament Europejski przyjął rezolucję, w której ‘wzywa krajowe federacje sportowe i kluby piłkarskie do przeciwdziałania pladze rasizmu, faszyzmu i ksenofobii na stadionach i w świecie sportu poprzez potępianie i karanie osób odpowiedzialnych oraz poprzez promowanie pozytywnych działań edukacyjnych skierowanych do młodych kibiców we współpracy ze szkołami i organizacjami społeczeństwa obywatelskiego’.

Ponadto Parlament Europejski ‘popiera i pochwala grupy społeczne i organizacje społeczeństwa obywatelskiego walczące z faszyzmem, rasizmem, ksenofobią i innymi formami nietolerancji oraz apeluje o ich ochronę’.

Rezolucja została uchwalona 25 października 2018 r. w związku ze wzrostem liczby neofaszystowskich aktów przemocy w Europie. Poprzez rezolucję parlament wyraził też głębokie zaniepokojenie ‘bezkarnością, z jaką grupy neofaszystowskie i neonazistowskie działają w niektórych państwach członkowskich’ i wzywa do stanowczego potępienia i karania przestępstw z nienawiści.

W konsultowaniu treści rezolucji uczestniczył Rafał Pankowski, współzałożyciel Stowarzyszenia ‘NIGDY WIĘCEJ’.

W październiku 2018 r. polskie władze piłkarskie doprowadziły do odwołania na stadionach Ekstraklasy akcji ‘Pokaż Rasizmowi Czerwoną Kartkę’, podczas której zawodnicy i sędziowie mieli wyrazić sprzeciw wobec nietolerancji i uprzedzeń rasowych. Akcja miała się odbyć w ramach Tygodni Akcji Football People organizowanych w całej Europie przez sieć FARE (Football Against Racism in Europe) pod egidą UEFA.

Stowarzyszenie ‘NIGDY WIĘCEJ’ jest powstałą w 1996 r. niezależną, apolityczną organizacją, która monitoruje incydenty na tle ksenofobicznym. Prowadzi kampanie społeczne, m.in. ‘Muzyka Przeciwko Rasizmowi’ i ‘Wykopmy Rasizm ze Stadionów’.‎

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This summer, the biggest open-air free festival in Europe hosted a unique edition of the ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Stadiums’ tournament, organized by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. At the Pol’and’Rock Festival (also known as Polish Woodstock), the players symbolically represented countries from all over the world. In the final play-off, Poland played against Iran, while the fair play award went to Croatia. A match was also played between the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association’s team together with artists involved in the ‘Music Against Racism’ campaign on one side and the team of the Human Rights Commissioner (Ombudsman) on the other. The Commissioner, Dr Adam Bodnar officially inaugurated the whole tournament and even personally refereed during the opening game.

The festival was held in Kostrzyn on the Polish-German border from 2nd to 4th August 2018 and it drew between 500 and 700 hundred thousand people, as estimated by the organizers.

– ‘The World Cup in Russia didn’t go down without racist incidents. Also in Antwerp, Polish fans insulted and assaulted Senegali fans. After the match Poland-Senegal (which the former lost), numerous racist insults were published on the Internet,’ said Piotr Ciolkowski, who co-leads the ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out Of Stadiums’ campaign by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association. – ‘Through the anti-racist tournament at Pol’and’Rock Festival, we wanted to remind everyone about the importance of respect and diversity in sports’.

The activity received support from Dariusz Dziekanowski, a legend of Celtic Glasgow and Legia Warsaw and a former star of the Polish national team. The tournament partners included the Fare network, the local authorities of Kostrzyn, and the Polish fan club of FC St. Pauli, the Silesian Pirates.

The Polish Woodstock Festival is not just about sporting activities, after all it is also a music event. – ‘We’ve held meetings with bands who support our campaign Music Against Racism. For example, NEVER AGAIN invited members of the amazing group called Na Gorze (Upstairs), which includes musicians who are disabled, to share their story with the audience. They had overcome all the obstacles and became fully-fledged artists,’ said Joanna Naranowicz, an activist of NEVER AGAIN and herself vocalist of the Qulturka band. The musicians of Na Gorze were joined during the festival by the Polish-Danish star singer-songwriter Czeslaw Mozil, known for his support for diversity and equality. Together, they had recorded a song with an anti-hate, pro-peace message.

The other educational activities organized by the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ team during the festival included DIY art workshops promoting diversity and respect as well as discussions on topics such as refugee rights.

In 2018, the festival line-up included, among others, the Israeli-based Balkan Beat Box – a creative mix of Middle Eastern and klezmer traditions, electronic music and punk rock – as well as heavy-metal stars Judas Priest and Soulfly, the US rockers Goo Goo Dolls and a plethora of other acts of various styles, from death metal to jazz and folk.

The festival audience paid homage to the people of Warsaw who fought for freedom in 1944, during the anti-Nazi Warsaw Uprising (that broke out on 1st August). A minute of silence was held to honor their sacrifice.

The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association was founded in 1996 by Marcin Kornak, a Polish poet and activist (who passed away in 2014). In spite of his disability, he laid the foundations of the Polish anti-racism and anti-discrimination movement. ‘NEVER AGAIN’ has campaigned against racism, antisemitism and xenophobia, for peace, intercultural dialogue and human rights both in Poland and internationally.

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The FIFA Football World Cup will kick off on 14 June.‎ The ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has participated in several events preceding the big event.

Co-founder of the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association Rafal Pankowski was invited by the prestigious Cambridge Union debating society to speak at a debate on the forthcoming World Cup in Russia, including the challenges of racism and xenophobia‎, on 10 May.

– ‘Should we boycott the World Cup in Russia?’ – asked the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ representative during the Cambridge debate. – ‘It would be a better idea to use the opportunity to promote intercultural dialogue and peace, to empower Russian civil society, the progressive fan movement and human rights groups, especially the ethnic minorities, before, during, and after the tournament. Much more should be done in this field.’

Dr Pankowski was the coordinator of the Respect Diversity – Football Unites campaign in Poland and Ukraine during UEFA Euro 2012. He has participated in the consultations on racism and xenophobia in preparation for the World Cup in Russia, organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

ln the run up to the tournament, the work of ‘NEVER AGAIN’ in counteracting the scourge of racism in East European football was also showcased at the international workshop on ‘Rethinking Radicalisation: Frontline Perspectives’‎ held at the Centre for Youth Studies, Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg (Russia) under the auspices of the European-wide research project Dialogue About Radicalization and Equality (DARE) on 22-25 May 2018. The ‎‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association’s presentation was entitled ‘The potential of sports events in tackling racism and xenophobia: Experiences of the Respect Diversity – Football Unites programme’.

Also in the run-up to the World Cup, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has been a partner of the Polish Film Festival in Russia. More than 100 films are shown, including a special section devoted to the social aspects of football such as Kasia Adamik’s acclaimed ‘The Offsiders’ about the Homeless World Cup.

The Festival features meetings, film workshops, concerts and exhibitions. It started in Moscow on 17-24 May. After that it sets out on a trail into the Russian interior and will visit cities such as Yekaterinburg, Barnaul, Novorosiysk, Tver, Rostov on Don, Krasnodar, Orenburg, Nizhny Novogrod, Great Novogrod, Great Wielkim, Torżhok, Petrozavodsk, Visokovsk and Biysk.

Since 1996, the ‘NEVER AGAIN’ Association has conducted the first anti-racism campaign in Eastern European football, ‘Let’s Kick Racism Out of the Stadiums’ and is a founding member of the Fare network.

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