Good logos are simple and immediately familiar. Easy to replicate, even by drunk guys with spray paint. A beautiful example: The Legia Warszawa logo. A sans-serif capital L inside a circle.
See – Easy to scrawl when you’re in a hurry but want everyone to know what team you root for.
When I was in Poland last month, I noticed that much, perhaps the majority, of the vandalism in Warsaw, Krakow and Bialystok related to soccer, an observation confirmed by the blog Emily’s Guide to Krakow, written by a woman from Maryland who married a Polish man and spent several years in Poland:
If you see graffiti in Krakow it’s probably football related, as each teams’ fans constantly paint over one another’s tags.
Emily was talking about the tags sprayed across the city by supporters of Wisla and Cracovia whose stadiums are only a few hundred meters apart.
In Bialystok, Jagiellonia pride is also evident:
Unfortunately, as we traveled by van along rural roads between Poland’s major cities, the quirky vandalism turned creepy and hateful. Countless bus stop shelters featured graffiti that mixed club pride with white pride. Supporters of various clubs scribbled fascist imagery – also easy to scribble on a wall in a pinch – next to their favorite soccer teams’ names.
I didn’t even notice until I began taking photos of the shelters from the passenger seat window. At first glance, the messages seemed benign – just more mischievous supporters scribbling out opponents’ logos and drawing their own. When I reviewed the photos, however, I saw that in many cases, the vandals drew celtic crosses – a common symbol of white nationalism – or proudly touted fascism.
This bus stop shelter actually says “White Power” with a celtic cross (which someone else etched out) and “Prawicowa,” which means “right-wing” in Polish. The side of the enclosure has a hand-painted Jagiellonia flag.
Meanwhile, this plexiglass enclosure straight up says “Fascista” alongside an Anti-Legia emblem, BKS TUR (for BKS Tur Bielsk Podlaski sports club) and Jaga (for Jagiellonia).
At other bus stops, anti-fascists got to work crossing out the hateful ideologies:
Above, leftists drew the antifa’s three arrows logo over the white nationalists’ celtic cross but preserved the CWKS Legia message (Centralny Wojskowy Klub Sportowy – CWKS – Legia Warszawa is the club’s complete name).
At this shelter, antifascists also scratched out a celtic cross and, I imagine, wrote “anti” in front of fascist. Although this bus shelter looks similar to one pictured above, you can tell the difference by the trees and home in the background and the woman inside. The similar tags suggest the same asshole is driving up and down rural Poland scrawling fascist messages on public property.
The white nationalist bus-stop messaging certainly startled me. But I encountered the most disturbing piece of soccer-related vandalism at a visitors’ bathroom inside the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp, where the Nazis starved, tortured and murdered 1.1 million Jewish people during World War II. On a hand dryer, I noticed a peeling, barely legible sticker for the Wisla Krakow club shop Reymonta 22. Clearly, a soccer sticker didn’t belong there, but I knew little about the club or its history.
I later learned that original Wisla Krakow supporters branded the club “Anty Jude” in response to Cracovia, which accepted Jewish players in the early 20th Century. That Anty Jude identity persists among ultras and rightwing fans.
At the very least, someone stupid stuck the decal in the bathroom at Auschwitz. At worst, the act was anti-Semitism at the site of history’s worst atrocity, a move that seems in line with the fascist footballing vandals around Poland.
I remember many of these places where the photos were taken, but I don’t remember you mentioning the bathroom in Birkenau. Perhaps you can send this to the author of “How Soccer Explains the World.”
I love reading everything you write – keep up the excellent work!