In December 1919, the Polish daily newspaper Ilustrowany Kurier Codzienny (IKC) reported: “Just before Christmas, namely on the 20th and 21st of this month, a meeting of all Polish sports associations was held in Warsaw, during which the Polish Football Association was established.”
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That laconic notice is one of the few reports describing the creation of the Polish Football Association (PZPN), which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.
The meeting at which the PZPN was established was held in Warsaw, in a now-demolished building located at either 1 or 3 Oboźna Street. Not everyone was satisfied with the venue for that meeting, with the IKC report describing a number of issues: “The meeting did not get off to a great start, since the designated building was taken and the Warsaw hosts were extremely unpunctual; this was not appreciated at all by the delegates from Lesser Poland and Poznań, who were accustomed not only to being punctual, but also to respecting decisions taken at meetings.”
Despite these issues and a number of other minor obstacles, 31 delegates from various clubs and districts managed to achieve consensus and establish the PZPN. The author of the PZPN’s first articles of association was Stanisław Polakiewicz – the vice-president of the Polish Olympic committee and later the president of the Polish ice hockey federation.
It should be remembered that significant efforts had already been made to establish organised structures and football associations in Poland. However, owing to the partition of the country, it had not been possible to complete that work.
Although the founding meeting was held in Warsaw, an overwhelming majority of delegates voted to base the new association in the southern city of Kraków. Consequently, the PZPN’s second general meeting took place in Kraków, at what was then 4 Radziwiłłowska Street. The first president of the PZPN was Edward Wiktor Cetnarowski, a doctor and an official at a renowned Cracovia sports club. At that second meeting, five regional associations were also established, the ‘capitals’ of which were Warsaw, Kraków, Lviv (now part of Ukraine, of course), Poznań and Łódź. Moreover, the rules of the Polish championship were also established.
In 1921, the Polish national team played their first official match, losing 1-0 to Hungary; in 1923, the PZPN was officially granted membership of FIFA; just a year later, Poland’s footballers competed at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris. That tournament was an unsuccessful one for Poland, but the PZPN had much to smile about at home, with 510 clubs, 17,000 players and 200 referees being registered with the Polish Football Association by the end of that year. Indeed, in just three years, the number of footballers in Poland had increased more than sevenfold. But that is a completely different story.
This article originally appeared in UEFA Direct 183