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Poland supporters angry over loss of national emblem eagle from football jerseys

11/15/2011 09:09 EST | Updated 01/15/2012 05:12 EST
WARSAW, Poland - Poland football supporters are enraged and even the nation's president is demanding an explanation after the national emblem of an eagle disappeared recently from the national team jerseys.

The new jerseys bearing a variant of the football association's logo and Nike's symbol debuted in the Poland-Italy friendly last Friday.

Tens of thousands of angry fans chanted "Where is the Eagle?" to voice their displeasure, and to demand the return of the long-used national emblem: A crowned white eagle against a red background.

The clearly visible emblem features on jerseys of all athletes representing Poland.

It has been replaced on the football jerseys with a less visible red-and-yellow emblem that joins a crowned eagle and a football in an artistic way.

President Bronislaw Komorowski wants an explanation from the Polish Football Association.

He called the traditional eagle emblem a "well known, well liked and loved symbol," and said the association should have thought twice before retiring it.

Nothing unites Poles better than the "Polish crowned eagle, the white eagle," he said.

Poland will wear the new jerseys again in a friendly against Hungary on Tuesday in Poznan.

The association has cited marketing rights for the change made when ordering jerseys from Nike ahead of Euro 2012, which Poland will co-host with Ukraine.

Piotr Golos, the association marketing director, said other national teams are switching to association logos and that the national badge entailed legal and marketing limitations.

Neither side would reveal details of the association's deal with Nike, but the sports daily Przeglad Sportowy said the association was to receive €1.5 million ($2 million) from the sale of team-related wear and equipment.

News reports suggested that, under pressure from disgruntled fans, the association will discuss the matter during its annual convention on Nov. 25.

Though the jerseys offend national sensibilities, they are touted as being environmentally friendly. Nike spokesman Maciej Lason says they are made from recycled plastic bottles. Eight bottles are used for every shirt and five bottles for each pair of shorts.

He would not say how many kits are to be made.

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