The Czech Republic will play Slovakia, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Cyprus and San Marino in qualifications for the 2008 European football championships. The top two teams from the group will qualify for the championships, which are being jointly hosted by Austria and Switzerland. The Czechs are currently focusing on the World Cup, which begins in Germany in June.
If the Dutch company LG Philips Displays pulls out of the Czech Republic it should return investment incentives it received from the Czech state, says the head of CzechInvest, Tomas Hruda. The company's factory in south Moravia shut down on Friday as it filed for bankruptcy protection. It employs 1,300 people.
Cuba's embassy in Prague is next week to explain to the Czech Foreign
Ministry why two Czech women were detained on the island. Former Miss
Czech Republic Helena Houdova and psychologist Mariana Kroftova were
held for 11 hours earlier this week after taking photographs in a poor
part of Havana.
They were released after signing a statement promising not to engage in counter-revolutionary activities. Ms Houdova, who runs a foundation for disadvantaged children in New York, said she had been looking for ways to help children in Cuba.
The anti-monopoly office says the European Commission should investigate whether free internet paid for out of public coffers is legal. The office said this could constitute unauthorised support to the detriment of commercial operators. The district of Prague 5 has introduced free wifi internet for all residents, a move which has been criticised by existing suppliers.
The number of 'gymnasiums' - secondary schools which prepare students for
university - could double under a new plan by the Czech Ministry of
Education. The proposal comes in response to increasing numbers of
applications in recent years.
Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Jiri Havel said the number of Czechs taking university degrees would increase from the present 50 percent to 80 percent in the future. Mr Havel and Education Minister Petra Buzkova are to put the new plan to the leadership of their party the Social Democrats next week.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek says one or two international universities should be created in the Czech Republic in the years ahead. He said on Friday that existing Czech universities - which already operate at international standards - could be upgraded.
The Czech Senate has rejected a bill passed in the Chamber of Deputies proposing three new commemorative dates for the Czech calendar. The bill had proposed April 7th be officially recognised as "scholarship day" or "day of letters" marking the founding date of Prague's Charles University in 1348. May 10th was to be recognised as "Family Day", and June 10th was to gain official status to remind Czechs of the massacre of civilians and destruction at Lidice by the Nazis in World War II. Members of the Senate on Thursday made clear there was no question over the importance of the dates, but rejected the necessity for the days to be specially recognised on the calendar.
The draw for qualification matches for the 2008 European football championship to take place in Switzerland and Austria, will take place on Friday in Montreux, Switzerland. The Czech Republic, currently 2nd in the world according to FIFA football rankings, has been put in the strongest group together with the Netherlands, meaning the Czechs will not have to face their somewhat "traditional" rivals in the qualifiers. Other teams in the prestigious first basket include England, France, Portugal, and defending European champions Greece.
The Senate has backed a bill on same-sex partnership approved by the Chamber of Deputies last month. On Thursday 45 of 65 senators present voted in favour of the bill, which will entitle gay couples to legal union, allowing access, for example, to a partner's medical information, or inheritance rights. Gay couples will also be able to raise children, although the bill does not allow them to adopt. Some opponents of the bill, notably the Christian Democrats who voted against, have criticised the legislation as "threatening" the standing of the traditional family. The bill must now be signed by the president to go into effect. If approved by the president, it will make the Czech Republic the 13th European country to recognise same-sex partnerships, as well as the first post-communist country to do so.
Three officials from the first division's FC Slovacko football club (formerly FC Synot), as well as seven referees have been found guilty of corruption. Fines handed down ranged between the equivalent of 2 - 12,000 US dollars. The biggest penalties were handed out to the former owner of the club, Ivo Valenta, as well as manager Jaroslav Hastik. Hastik and the seven referees have also been banned from undertaking any football-linked business activities for periods of up to five years. The match fixing scandal first broke in May 2004.
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