The Czech Republic squad for Euro 2008 is as strong as the one that reached the semi-finals in the 2004 competition, veteran Czech coach Karel Brückner said on Wednesday. The 68-year-old, who cancelled Tuesday’s press conference because he was taken ill, added that the squad had prepared as well for this Euro as the previous one, where their flowing football won many admirers but they lost on a silver goal to the more pragmatic Greeks. The Czechs, who have since 2004 lost the talents of Karel Poborský and Pavel Nedvěd and for these finals injured playmaker Tomáš Rosický, open their campaign against co-hosts Switzerland in Basel on Saturday.
The national air carrier ČSA made a profit of 207 million CZK (13.1 million USD) in 2007, a figure over 100 million crowns higher than was previously announced. Representatives of the firm made the definitive announcement about last year’s profit at a press conference on Thursday, adding that for the first four moths of this year, the company was 400 million crowns in the red. Last year, the firm invested in new aircraft to the tune of 1.4 billion CZK, it also paid back loans worth over 1 billion crowns. This year’s profit is projected to be 100 million crowns, delegates of the airline announced on Thursday.
The Czech prime minister Mirek Topolánek has been diagnosed with diabetes, reported Hospodářské noviny on Thursday. Mr Topolánek said that the type of diabetes he has been diagnosed with is not serious, but that he must now adhere to a strict diet. The prime minister said that his condition has not affected his work in the slightest, and that the new lifestyle the diagnosis has brought about has actually made him feel better than ever. The newspaper writes that if Mr Topolánek follows his doctor’s guidelines, then he stands a 50 percent chance of complete recovery in a couple of years’ time. Diabetes is one of the most frequent diseases in the Czech Republic, one in ten adult Czechs suffers from the condition.
Sparta Prague football club has a new coach – and that man is Vítězslav Lavička. On Thursday, Lavička signed a two-year contract with this year’s Gambrinus Liga’s runners-up. Lavička, who up until now was coaching the national under-21 squad, replaces Michal Bílek as the Prague club’s manager. The 45-year-old is himself a former Sparta player; he has also worked as the team’s assistant coach. He said on Thursday that it had been a hard decision for him to quit the under-21 team post.
The government has approved a law which orders mobile phone operators to store data on all calls made on their networks. Critics have reacted to the government’s decision by saying the new law infringes upon an individual’s personal freedom. But on Thursday, Industry and Trade Minister Martin Říman said that the bill merely serves to bring the Czech Republic in line with other EU states. Mobile phone operators were concerned that they would have to foot the bill, though on Thursday the government decided that the project would be funded out of the state budget. President Václav Klaus still has to sign the bill for it to become law.
Deputies from the opposition Social Democrats and indeed some within the government coalition are calling for the dismissal of the Supreme State Attorney Renata Vesecká. Their calls come in light of a lawsuit which found that shadow justice minister Marie Benešová need not apologise to Mrs Vesecká for insinuating that she was corrupt. Mrs Vesecká was involved in the investigation into deputy prime minister Jiří Čunek, which was brought to a halt several months ago. Members of the coalition Green Party in particular have voiced their unhappiness with the way Mr Čunek’s case was handled. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has said that he is not considering dismissing Mrs Vesecká.
Six people were injured on Thursday morning when two trams collided in the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno. The accident happened at around 08:00 CET and caused severe delays for commuters. It is not yet known who or what was responsible for the crash, and the damages caused by the accident have yet to be calculated. None of those injured are said to be in a serious condition.
The Czech Republic is one of fifteen EU member states to have been given a final warning for failing to update its rules aimed at blocking off finance for terrorist activities. The country may be referred to the European Court of Justice should it fail to change its legislation on the issue within the next two months, a European Commission spokesperson said. EU countries were obliged to introduce an updated version of the bloc’s anti-moneylaundering rules by December last year. The rules apply to the financial sector, lawyers, notaries, accountants, real estate agents, casinos, trusts and company service providers. Under the rules, Czech companies will have to identify and verify who they are dealing with, report suspicions of moneylaundering and ensure personnel are properly trained.
The Croatian authorities have done a u-turn on a ban which prevented foreign tourists from bringing meat and dairy products into the country. The ban, which will be lifted on July 1, had angered many Czechs, who traditionally bring along their own food during travels to both domestic and foreign locations. In fact, the ban was considered by many Czechs as so outrageous, that it threatened to curtail their holiday travels to that country. Croatia has been a popular holiday destination for Czechs since communist times, due to its relative proximity and seaside resorts. Last year, an estimated 800,000 Czechs visited the country.
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