While many European countries have been dealing with football violence for decades, in the Czech Republic it is a relatively recent phenomenon, one of the more unwelcome imports which followed the fall of the Communist system. Now legislators are preparing a new law to combat the problem. Jan Obst is the chairman of the Czech Football Association:
Just last weekend police were met with a hail of broken seats and other missiles during a game between Ostrava and Brno, while the most notorious case of Czech football violence in recent times saw a drunken fan running on to the pitch and attacking a linesman during a match at Prague club Bohemians.
The Czech Republic's national team are taking part in Euro 2004 in Portugal in the summer, and Czech police will be there too, keeping would-be Czech hooligans in line. Here's Deputy Interior Minister Miroslav Koudelny.
"Czech police would not actually intervene if there is any trouble. But they know the hooligans, they speak the same language, obviously, and what they'll mostly be doing will be co-ordinating with the local police and organisers of Czech groups."
Getting back to football stadiums in the Czech Republic, unlike in many European countries, beer is sold during games at almost all clubs. That even though it is illegal. By the way, the league is also sponsored by a beer company, Gambrinus. Czech FA chief Jan Obst draws a distinction between stronger 12 degree beer and weaker 10 degree beer, saying the latter is part of the 'football experience'.
"I strongly believe that the current law - which was introduced in 1989, just before Communism ended - banning the sale of even 10 degree beer achieves nothing whatsoever. We've been working with MPs on the new law, which would allow 10 degree beer to be sold legally at football stadiums."
That new law, due to include lifetime bans for convicted hooligans, should be introduced sometime later this year.
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