Last week was a rough one for league champions Sparta Prague, currently in 5th place. On Thursday the club struck midfielder Karel Poborsky from its roster after the player publicly criticised the team's coach. Jaroslav Hrebik, once adored by fans in his first stint with the club, is now under enormous pressure to resign following one of Sparta's poorest starts in recent memory. And, it's hard to see how the loss of Poborsky - one of the few genuine stars in the Czech league - will help.
On Saturday, Sparta lost yet again - this time to archrivals Banik Ostrava. Ostrava beat Sparta in Prague for first time in 24 years and Ostrava fans showed their glee by waving huge banners praising Sparta's coach. The final score: 2:0.
If that wasn't enough for Jaroslav Hrebik his club was also fined 900,000 crowns - the equivalent of roughly 36,000 dollars - on Friday as punishment for racist taunts made by Sparta fans in a recent Champions League game. That came against Ajax Amsterdam.
In additional punishment UEFA ruled on Friday that Sparta will not be allowed to fill almost half its stadium seats against an upcoming Champions League game against Arsenal. For Sparta that translates as a loss in revenues of more than 200,000 dollars.
Karel Poborsky, meanwhile, has made a move to 2nd division Ceske Budejovice (which he co-owns), where he will play on loan from Sparta until January at least. Everything went swimmingly for the player in his first game at the weekend against Olomouc B. Poborsky scored twice and set up a third to see Budejovice dominate 4:0.
Fans of the Czech national side will not be happy about news from the German Bundesliga: the loss of Jan Koller, the giant striker who plays for Borussia Dortmund. Koller suffered a serious ligament injury on Saturday, with sources saying he will be out of action for six months. His loss comes at a difficult time for the national squad, facing final qualifying matches for the World Cup. Koller is all-time goal-scorer for the Czech national side with a tally of 40.
Three days of drama at the Davis Cup semis ended in defeat for the Czechs, dramatically ousted by Germany 3-2. Germany knocked the Czechs, for the first time ever, out of the elite 16 World Nations Group. Despite valiant play by Tomas Berdych, who downed German stars Kiefer and Haas in two five set thrillers, it wasn't enough. Though Czech Tomas Zib got off to a great start in the final match, taking the first set and leading the 2nd 4:1, opponent Tommy Haas turned everything around and broke Czech fans' hearts.
Next year the Czechs will start in Europe/Africa Zone Group I.
Ten days before the official start of the NHL, legendary Czech ice hockey goalie Dominik Hasek is proving he's back in top flight. On Friday Hasek backstopped his new team Ottawa to a 3:0 preseason win over Pittsburgh, and although he played only half the game for Czech fans the return of one of hockey's most formidable goaltenders can only be an important development.
Dominik Hasek played his last NHL match in December 2003, before being sidelined by a groin injury. He did not play in 2004 due to the NHL lockout.
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