|Sports Minister Joanna Mucha|
After what many Poles deemed a national embarrassment when a World Cup qualifier between Poland and England had to be postponed because nobody thought to close the roof of the National Stadium before an expected downpour, the prime minister has stepped in to defend his sports minister after calls for her dismissal.
The World Cup qualifier was scheduled to be held on October 16 at the 58,000-capacity National Stadium in Warsaw but after hours of confusion, it was finally announced that the match would be postponed until the next day since the pitch was soaked and unfit to play on. The question then on everybody’s mind was why the retractable roof hadn’t been closed to cover the pitch before the game, especially since all the weather forecasts had predicted rain in Warsaw on that day.
Organizers said safety precautions prevented the roof being closed during rainfall and neither team nor FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, wanted to close it before the match.
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said the matter would be investigated thoroughly and those at fault would be “dealt with mercilessly.”
And then, to the surprise of many, Sports Minister Joanna Mucha offered her resignation last week.
But Donald Tusk said he would not accept Ms Mucha’s resignation. Instead he asked her to investigate the incident further and “make some decisions before the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, the PM criticized Robert Wojtaĥ, the chairman of the National Sports Center (NCS), which administers the National Stadium.
“I would expect that the head of NCS, during the week leading up to the match would be at the stadium personally making sure that everything was in place. But everything wasn’t [in place].” said Mr Tusk at a press conference.
It would seem the prime minister favors getting rid of Mr Wojtaĥ, but according to daily Rzeczpospolita, his contract rules out penalizing him for mistakes made concerning the management of the stadium. The responsibility in such cases in fact rests with the owner of the facility – in practice, the State Treasury.
Mr Wojtaĥ’s contract reportedly guarantees that if he is fired while the contract is valid, he will still have to be paid his salary and bonus.
Ms Mucha has been criticized on several occasions for her ignorance in matters of sport. She once asked, for example, who had “chosen” the two soccer teams scheduled to play in the Polish cup final.
From Warsaw Business Journal by Remi Adekoya
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