Football: UEFA boss to visit iconic Polish union HQ
(GDANSK) - UEFA president Michel Platini will visit the base of Poland's historic Solidarity union later this month, its international envoy Andrzej Matla told AFP on Monday.
Matla said the visit was agreed after Platini expressed an interest during talks with Solidarity head Piotr Duda during the latter's visit to UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, in February.
"We have agreed for him (Platini) to come on June 22 on the day of the quarter finals in Gdansk," Matla added.
The Solidarity union -- Solidarnosc in Polish -- emerged out of the August 1980 shipyard strikes in Gdansk to become the Soviet bloc's first and only recognised free trade union.
The protests, led by shipyard electrician Lech Walesa, sparked an unprecedented wave of anti-communist strikes across Poland, bringing worldwide fame to the strike leader.
After taking the unprecedented step to recognise Solidarity in 1980, Poland's communist regime led by General Wojciech Jaruzelski declared martial law in December the following year to try to smother it.
But Solidarity survived underground, re-emerging to negotiate a 1989 deal with the regime that allowed semi-free elections and spelled the end for communist rule in Poland, marking the first domino in the collapse of the entire Soviet bloc by 1991.
Solidarity is still based in the same building, now on the renamed Solidarity Square and remains a prominent player on Poland's union scene.
Walesa went on to become Polish president, serving from 1990 to 1995.
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