The Czech football team were heavily favoured to beat Latvia on Tuesday night in their opening match at Euro 2004, the European football championship now underway in host country Portugal. The Czech national squad, runner-up eight years ago, is hoping to erase bad memories of Euro 2000 where it was eliminated after defeats in its first two games. If the Czechs defeat Lativa, they will next face the Netherlands and Germany.
In Sports News: as the Czech football team prepare for their opening game at Euro 2004, experienced midfielder Vladimir Smicer tells us even though their opponents on Tuesday are the unfancied Latvia, the first game is always very difficult. In ice hockey, goaltender Dominik Hasek looks set to join Ottawa and Czech tennis number one Jiri Novak has recorded his best ever placing on grass, just a week before Wimbledon.
The Czech national football squad arrived in Portugal on Thursday afternoon to begin their final training sessions ahead of their opening match in the Euro 2000 championship. This coming Tuesday, the Czech Republic faces Latvia, who have never before made it to the European Championship, and are not expected to pose much of a challenge for the Czech team.
Czech police are investigating two more football officials who have been implicated in a bribery scandal that erupted last month. Prosecutor Pavel Pukovec told Czech Radio that football referee Petr Rehor is suspected of having agreed to accept a bribe to favour Synot in its match against Zlin in the top Czech football division. Meanwhile an official of Synot, Igor Stefanko, is being prosecuted for offering a bribe of 200,000 crowns (about $8,000) to the Slovak referee Eduard Cichy to influence a March 13 match at which Synot faced Teplice. So far, seven people, five of them referees, have been accused in the scandal. If tried and convicted, they face up to two years in prison.
On Thursday morning the Czech football team left Prague for the European Championships in Portugal, with fans around the country hoping they can win the tournament for the first time since 1976. Among the stars of the Czech team should be striker Milan Baros, who has scored a very impressive 16 goals in 25 international games - not bad for a 22-year-old. Before the Czech team left for Euro 2004, Ian Willoughby spoke to Milan Baros, and began by asking him how the Czech team's preparations for the tournament had gone.
The Czech Republic has been gripped by football fever ahead of Euro 2004, which gets underway in Portugal on Saturday. The only time the Czechs - or rather Czechoslovakia - won the European Championships was in 1976, when Antonin Panenka's famous chipped penalty entered football lore. Czech football fans have high hopes their team will do well in Portugal - but how does the great Antonin Panenka rate their chances?
Czech police are questioning a Slovak football referee in connection with a bribery scandal involving the Czech club Synot, the Slovak football association announced on Friday. Several Czech referees and a senior official from Synot have already been arrested over the alleged match-fixing affair, which has been described as the biggest scandal in the history of Czech football. Several Slovak referees officiate in the Czech league.
The Czech football team have travelled to the north Bohemian town of Teplice for a match against Estonia on Sunday evening, their last warm-up game before the European Football championships in Portugal. The Czech Republic's first game at Euro 2004 is against Latvia on June 15; the other teams in Group D are Germany and the Netherlands.
In Sports News: Czech Roman Sebrle has beaten his main rival Tom Pappas of the US in a warm-up for the decathlon at the Olympics in Athens. At tennis's French Open, the last Czech in the competition, Denisa Chladkova, has been knocked out, while Martina Navratilova has ruled out appearing at Wimbledon after an unsuccessful singles return at Roland Garros. And in football, the Czech national team play two friendly matches this week as they continue preparations for Euro 2004.
Jana Ciglerová: Americans say their lives are fantastic, Czechs say everything is terrible – neither is true
Study: Demand for new flats in Prague set to keep outstripping supply
“There is good, better and then there is the USSR.” – New book depicts life in communist Czechoslovakia through memories of people who experienced it
‘The fat lady sings’: Prague’s State Opera marks restoration to former glory with gala concert
CzechTourism head hints attracting tourists no longer agency’s main goal