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 first Polish Championships
In 1921, for the first time the Polish championship games were conducted, and Cracovia’s players were crowned Poland's maiden champions. On 18 December of the same year, the national team made its debut in an official international match. The Bialo-czerwoni (White-Reds) lost 0:1 (0:1) to Hungary in Budapest; however, the discipline gained more and more supporters. At the end of 1921, 126 clubs were already operating, bringing together 2,397 athletes.
The following year, three consecutive district football associations were set up: in Upper Silesia, Lublin and Vilnius.
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.
In 1925, the Polish College of Football Referees was founded, and a year later the first final of the Puchar Polski, or Polish Cup, was held. Wisła Kraków won the trophy by defeating Sparta Lwów (2:1). December 2, 1926, the first conciliatory conference was organized Warsaw, in order to create the league. The idea was supported by the majority of prominent clubs, and its opponents were the Polish Football Association and regional organizations.
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.
League in groups
In the 30s, the league experienced some statutory turmoil. In 1933, there was an attempt to divide it into two groups, but after a year, the old system was re-established. The best Polish club in this period was Ruch Chorzów. The "Blues" won the Polish championship five times then.
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.
Just before the beginning of the World War II, our team won (4:2) against Hungary, the then vice-champions of the world. During the Nazi occupation, the Germans forbade the Poles to practice sport, but the ball was played in the conspiracy. In Warsaw, Cracow, Lodz, Poznan, Radom, and many other cities, there were regular fixtures.
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.
Polonia – the champion on the ruins of Warsaw
In 1946, the first post-war Polish champion was determined. On the ruins of the destroyed city, Polonia Warsaw won the title, playing without their own stadium. Year later, the national team played its first postwar match, against Norway (1:3). In 1948, the league was resumed after a year break, and the champion was Cracovia. In 1949, the reform of the league was conducted, by reducing the number of teams to 12.
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.
In 1952, our national team played at the Helsinki Olympics, without success, just like eight years later in Rome. Still weak and searching for its own shape, the team was able only to one-time victories.
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.
Determination of the games’ cycle
The year 1962 brought another change in the competition. Polish FA approved the cycle "autumn - spring". As a result of the decision on the reorganization, the champion of Poland was determined in the mid-year, after an early competition, and the matches were held in two groups, 7 teams in each. Górnik Zabrze held sway domestically with six league titles in the 1960s, a record-breaking achievement. The team of Lubański, Szołtysik, Kostka and Oślizło was also the first, and so far the only Polish team, that advanced to the final stage in European competition. In 1970, Górnik lost the decisive match in Vienna, with Manchester City (1:2) in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup. At the same time, Legia Warszawa went trough to the European Cup semi-finals.
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)
Historical victories of the National Team
After the success of Polish clubs, the time has come for the national team. The Bialo-czerwoni, led by Kazimierz Górski, won the Olympic gold medal in Munich (1972), silver medal in Montreal (1976) and a medal for third place in the finals of the World Cup in Germany (1974). Tomaszewski, Deyna, Gadocha, Lato, Szarmach, Kasperczak, Gorgoń - those names were known all the world! This success was not properly exploited. The silver medal of coach Górski’s team in 1976 in Montreal was considered as a failure, and the distinguished coach gave way to Jacek Gmoch. To this day, football supporters wonder why the Bialo-czerwoni did not succeed at the World Championships in Argentina in 1978, having - seemingly - the strongest lineup in the history of Polish football. This year was not successful, not only because of the failure of the national team. The Polish Football Association president Edward Sznajder died in a car accident. The football by the Vistula River sank deep into crisis.
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).
In 1991, Kazimierz Górski became the president of Polish FA, and four years later he was succeeded by Marian Dziurowicz. At the time, the biggest success was the silver medal, won by the team led by Janusz Wójcik at the Olympic Games in Barcelona (1992).
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).
Reforms in the association’s law
In 1999, Michał Listkiewicz became president of Polish FA, and tried to introduce reforms in the association’s law. The changes in the game system (in 2001, split into groups: the championship group and the relegation group, later – reduction of the number of teams in the league to 14), introducing a licensing system, intended to adjust the structure of Polish clubs to the European requirements, implementing a uniform system of training for young players, improving the infrastructure – those were some of the tasks he set at the start of his term.
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.
World Cup 2006
Four years later, similar fate befell the squad led by Paweł Janas. Despite great expectations from the fans and the media, the Bialo-czerwoni fell at the group phase of Weltmaisterschaft 2006. Subsequently, it was a Dutchman Leo Beenhakker, who took over the national team.
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.
On the 8th of June 2012 Poland drew with Greece 1:1 in the inaugural game of the UEFA Euro 2012. Robert Lewandowski scored the only goal for the white-and-reds. On June 12, Poland drew with Russia 1:1 in the second match of Euro with Jakub Błaszczykowski, team’s captain, netting for Polish side. In the last game, which was to decide on the qualification for the quarter-finals, Polish National Team lost to Czech Republic 0:1 in Wroclaw.
On the 10th of July 2012 the board of the Polish Football Association selected a new Polish National Team head coach. Franciszek Smuda was replaced by Waldemar Fornalik, former coach of Ruch Chorzów.
25th of September 2012 president Grzegorz Lato stated that he will no longer be a candidate for reelection. “Everybody expected changes so they should be happy to hear my decision. I believe that what I am doing is for the best for the PFA, as well as for Polish football.”
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.
Adam Nawałka – new head coach of the National Team
On the 16th of October 2013 due to the failed attempt to qualify for 2014 World Cup, the Polish Football Association decided to part ways with head coach Waldemar Fornalik. Ten days later, on the 26th of October, Adam Nawałka was selected as the new head coach of the Polish National Team.
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.
Qualifying for EURO 2016
On 11 October 2015, Poland won 2-1 against Ireland at the National Stadium, thus securing their second-place promotion spot for EURO 2016. Robert Lewandowski and Grzegorz Krychowiak were the ones to score for Adam Nawałka's squad.
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.
Zbigniew Boniek remains President of the Polish Football Association for a second term
A General Meeting and Elections of the Polish Football Association took place on 28 October 2016. During the meeting, 115 delegates voted to elect the President of the Polish Football Association. Zbigniew Boniek won the election with 99 votes.
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.
Poland's 8th promotion to the World Cup
After a twelve-year-long break, the Polish national team won a promotion to the 2018 World Cup. The White-and-Reds won the group, leaving Denmark, Montenegro, Romania, Armenia and Kazakhstan behind. In the last qualifier, Poland defeated Montenegro 4-2. With sixteen goals scored, Robert Lewandowski became the top goalscorer of the qualifiers, and Adam Nawałka became the first coach in history to succeed in leading his team to both the European Championship and the World Cup.
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.
Jerzy Brzęczek as the new coach
Adam Nawałka stepped down as the coach of the Polish national team after the World Cup. He was replaced by Jerzy Brzęczek, whose debut as the coach resulted in a draw against Italy in the UEFA Nations League tournament.
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.
Organisation of the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2019
FIFA Under-20 World Cup 2019 – the twenty-second World Cup tournament of the men's U-20 teams. For the first time this tournament took place in Poland. It began on 23 May and ended on 15 June 2019. Ukraine won the U-20 World Cup, beating South Korea 3:1 in the final played in Łódź. The Polish national team, led by coach Jacek Magiera, finished the tournament in the round of 16, where they lost 0:1 to Italy.
Qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020
Two games before the end of the UEFA EURO 2020 Qualifiers, the Polish national team has secured their place in the final tournament. In the eighth round, the White and Reds defeated North Macedonia 2:0 thanks to goals scored by Przemyslaw Frankowski and Arkadiusz Milik.
Paulo Sousa is the new head coach of the Polish national team!
On 21 January, Paulo Sousa, a Portugese coach and a former representative of his country, has been appointed as the new head coach of the Polish national football team. The coach used to work with such teams as Leicester City, ACF Forentina or Girondins Bordeaux. He won the Israeli championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and together with FC Basel he won the championship of Switzerland. Paulo Sousa replaced Jerzy Brzęczek as the head coach.
Organisation of the 2020 UEFA Europa League Final in Gdańsk
Poland hosted the final match of the UEFA Europa League for the second time. In the final game, Villarreal CF defeated Manchester United after a penalty shootout (the score was 1:1 after 90 minutes and extra time). In the shootout, the Spanish team won 11:10.
Performance at UEFA EURO 2020
In the final tournament of UEFA EURO 2020, the Polish national team unfortunately failed to advance to the knockout stage. After defeats against Slovakia, Sweden and a draw with Spain, the White and Reds finished at the last place in the group.
Cezary Kulesza elected for the presidency of the PZPN
During the General Reporting and Elections Meeting of Delegates of the Polish Football Association held on 18 August 2021, Cezary Kulesza, previously Vice President for Professional Football of the Polish Football Association, has been elected the new President of the Polish Football Association.
Paulo Sousa is no longer the head coach of the Polish national team
Paulo Sousa is no longer the head coach of the Polish national team, as announced by the President of the Polish Football Association. "As the Management Board, we have unanimously decided to terminate the contract with Paulo Sousa. As part of the agreement, the former head coach will pay compensation to PZPN corresponding to the federation's expectations," announced president Cezary Kulesza.
Czesław Michniewicz as the head coach of the Polish national team
On 31 January 2022, Czesław Michniewicz became the new head coach of the Polish national team. "After much discussion, analysis and further consideration, I made a choice that I am satisfied with and consider to be the best possible choice under the current circumstances. Coach Michniewicz convinced me with his specific plan. Our main goal is the play-off matches and, as we both believe, promotion to the World Cup in Qatar," said Cezary Kulesza, President of the Polish Football Association. The 52-year-old coach signed a contract until the end of the year, with an option to extend it.
Poland beat Sweden and booked a place at the World Cup!
The Polish national team beat Sweden 2-0 in the final of the 2022 World Cup play-offs at the Silesian Stadium in Chorzów. Robert Lewandowski and Piotr Zieliński were the ones to score the winning goals for the team led by head coach Czesław Michniewicz. The White-and-Reds advanced to their fourth consecutive major football tournament. After EURO 2016 and 2020, as well as the 2018 World Cup in Russia, the time has come for the 2022 World Cup. #HeadedForKatar!
World Cup performance and promotion from the group
The Polish national team lost 1:3 to France at Al Thumama Stadium in Doha in the 1/8 finals match of the World Cup in Qatar. The White-and-Reds put up a fight, but the current world champions proved too strong an opponent for them. Kylian Mbappé scored two goals for the 'Tricolores', while Olivier Giroud also added to the score The honour score for Poland was courtesy of Robert Lewandowski, who took advantage of a penalty kick in added time. Czesław Michniewicz's team will return to the country on Monday. It should be mentioned that at the World Cup in Qatar, the White-and-Reds advanced out of the group for the first time in 36 years.
Coach Czesław Michniewicz has finished his work as the coach of the Polish national team
The Polish Football Association announces that Czesław Michniewicz will stand down as head coach of the Polish national team as of 31 December 2022. Czesław Michniewicz held several meetings with PZPN president Cezary Kulesza, vice-presidents and the management board of PZPN. During them, the head coach summarised the performance of the Polish national team at the World Cup in Qatar and also discussed the organisational aspects of the national team's participation in the World Cup. After a thorough analysis of all the information, PZPN has decided not to extend Czesław Michniewicz's contract, which expires at the end of the year.
Fernando Santos appointed as the head coach of the Polish national team
On 24 January 2023, the Portuguese coach Fernando Santos was appointed as the new Polish national team head coach. The contract with the coach, who led the Portuguese national team to the 2016 European Championships, will last for the next two qualifying cycles - for the European and World Cups. "I firmly believe that the new head coach will bring a great deal of good to the national team and Polish football as a whole," said the president of thehe Polish Football Association, Cezary Kulesza.