Two of the Czech Republic’s most famous footballers, Pavel Nedvěd of Juventus Turin and Chelsea’s Petr Čech faced off for the first time on Wednesday in the Champions League. The closely-played match saw Chelsea clinch the narrowest of wins ahead of the second-leg on March 10. Nevertheless, for Czech fans the match-up between Nedvěd and Čech was something of a special event, not least because the Juve midfielder has said he will soon retire from the game.
The Czech tennis player Radek Štěpánek is so far having a fantastic 2009. He had taken two singles titles in his whole 13-year professional career prior to this season. However, since the start of January the in-form 30-year-old has won two more titles, missing out on a third when he was beaten in the final of the Memphis Championship on Sunday.
In Sports News this Monday: great success for Lukáš Bauer, who takes silver in the 15 km classic at the Nordic World Ski Championships; unfortunately, the skiathlon doesn’t go quite so well for the leading Czech cross-country skier; the Czech ladies outshine the men shooters at the European Air Weapons Championships in Prague; it’s close but no third ATP title of the season for Radek Štěpánek in Memphis; and the teams chasing leaders Slavia mess up in the first round after Czech football’s winter break.
The Czech football league resumed after the winter break on Sunday. But the story that made the evening headlines was not who won but fan violence at a game between Brno and Ostrava. The weekend’s matches were the first under new rules stipulating that the clubs themselves - and not the country’s police force – are responsible for security. But hooligans at the game in Brno proved too much to handle for privately hired security guards and, as in the past, police in riot gear were called in.
All eyes are on the northern town of Liberec at the moment for the Nordic World Ski Championships, described as the biggest sports event the Czech Republic has ever held. But the championships are attracting scrutiny of a different kind – this week the Supreme Audit Office filed criminal charges last week for fraud, loan fraud, and breach of trust.
This weekend Prague is hosting the European Air Weapons Championships, an indoor shooting event that takes place at the city’s O2 Arena. Czech 10-m air rifle Olympic champion Kateřina Emmons, whose American husband Matthew Emmons also has an Olympic gold in his medals collection, is pregnant and not competing, though she will be in attendance. On the eve of the championships, I asked Kateřina Emmons if shooting had become more popular in the Czech Republic in the wake of her success.
This Wednesday evening sees the start of the Nordic World Ski Championship in Liberec – the most notable sports event in the Czech Republic in 2009. Never before have the Czechs hosted the Worlds, and all eyes here will be on Czech hopefuls, most notably last year’s World Cup cross-country skiing winner Lukáš Bauer.
Czech officials have tried - and tried again - to stamp out football hooliganism, but at last, say observers, a step in the right direction. On Monday, Czech police and the Czech Football Association (ČMFS) signed an agreement shifting responsibility for security to individual clubs. While the police will continue to monitor key games from outside stadiums, they will only move in if a situation gets out of hand.
In Sports News this Monday: Šárka Záhrobská takes silver in the slalom at the Alpine World Ski Championships; Martina Sáblíková wins her third race in a row in the Speed Skating World Cup, cementing her overall lead; Radek Štěpánek climbs to 19th in the world rankings after his career fourth title in San Jose, where he also picks up a doubles trophy; and talks on bringing the NHL to Prague again this autumn fall through.
In Sports News this Monday: Martina Sáblíková takes her first gold medal at the World Allround Speedskating Championships in Norway; the Czech Republic’s women’s tennis team reach the last four of the Fed Cup for the first time in years, setting up a home tie with the United States for a place in the final; and the Czech ice hockey team suffer a debacle at the Swedish Games.