Czech football scandal deepens, but there is also good news in the run-up to Athens


Football scandal rolls on

The off-pitch agonies of Czech football continue. A probe by Czech police into alleged match-fixing in the top Czech league has now been extended to no less than ten clubs. Shockingly the list now includes five first division clubs, including Sparta Prague. So far charges have been filed against seven referees suspected of taking bribes. The football season may be over, but this scandal looks set to roll on well into extra time.

Czech canoeing success raises hopes for Athens

Stepanka Hilgertova, photo: CTKStepanka Hilgertova, photo: CTK The Czech canoeing team looks well-set for Athens, as they came out of the World Cup slalom competition in Prague over the weekend with a fistful of medals. Nearly all the world's top canoeists were there, so this was a good rehearsal for the Olympics. Tomas Indruch was second in the single canoe slalom, as were Marek Jiras and Tomas Mader in the pairs. And twice defending Olympic champion, Stepanka Hilgertova picked up bronze in the women's kayak slalom. The Czech canoeists are among the country's big hopes for Athens, with seven medals from the last three Olympics.

Unexpected Czech victory in new volleyball competition

And there was Czech success over the weekend in the town of Opava which hosted a brand new international competition, the European Volleyball League. The Czechs defeated hot favourites Russia 3:1, with great serves, powerful blocks and effective attacks in a thrilling final on Sunday. The event was widely seen as a success - and not just thanks to the Czech victory - and there are hopes to expand it next year from eight to twelve national teams - including some of the teams from the elite World League, like Greece, France and Spain. Alas, despite their strong showing the Czechs won't be able to play in Athens, as they failed to reach the top eight in the 2003 European Championships.

Czech women secure Fed Cup place

And there was also success for the Czech women in the Fed Cup relegation rounds against Estonia over the weekend. They secured their place among the World Group elite - the world's top 16 - when the promising 18-year-old Barbora Strycova defeated Marqit Ruutel in straight sets.

Will Milan Baros leave for Spain

And finally, there's speculation afoot about the future of the Czech Liverpool striker and Euro 2004 hero, Milan Baros. Last week he said that Real Madrid had contacted him with a view to a move, but Liverpool's management said there had been no contact whatsoever between the two clubs, and that Baros would be back in training on July 19th. Before deciding his future, it's likely that Baros will wait to talk with the new Liverpool boss, Rafael Benitez. One thing is certain - Liverpool fans will be crossing their fingers for the Czech top goalscorer in Euro 2004 to stay on.


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