A major row has blown up over television coverage of the 2004 World Championships, which begin in Prague and Ostrava at the end of April. The company which has built the main arena for the competition, Sazka, is demanding up to a hundred million crowns from Czech Television to allow the station's cameras into the championships. Czech TV, meanwhile, is refusing to pay, saying it has already paid the World Championships organisers for broadcasting rights, including the exclusive rights to sell broadcasts to other stations. Talks between the two sides are ongoing. The Czech staging of the 2004 hockey World Championships has been mired in controversy from day one: the Czechs were supposed to host the competition in 2003 but had to swap years with Finland when it became clear a new arena could not be built in time.
In Czech hockey's Extraliga, meanwhile, the biggest game of the latest round saw Zlin lose 3:2 to reigning champions Slavia on Tuesday. That result did not affect their league standings, however: Zlin stay second, Slavia third. After beating Kladno 4:1 leaders Pardubice are now 14 points in front.
Twenty 20-year-old Czech striker Vaclav Sverkos made the headlines this week when he scored three goals in 23 minutes to help Moenchengladbach to a 4:2 win over Stuttgart in the German Cup. Sverkos's achievement is all the more remarkable when you consider Stuttgart have the best defence in the Bundesliga, and have only conceded three league goals all season. German daily Bild praised Sverkos to the skies, describing him as a "child bombardier". Meanwhile, another former Ostrava wunderkind, Michal Papadopulos, made his debut for Arsenal this week, coming on for the Gunners near the end of an English League Cup match.
The coach of the Czech Under 21 team, Werner Licka, has been sacked, after the "lion cubs" lost recently in play-offs for next year's Under 21 European Championships. On the subject of sackings, a record eight Czech league managers were given the boot in the autumn half of the season. One club, second from bottom Viktoria Zizkov, have replaced their manager twice since August.
Young Czech racing driver Jaroslav Janis had his first taste of Formula 1 on Wednesday, when he tested the new Jordan car in Jerez, Spain ahead of its launch in February. Janis, who at 20 is a star of Formula 3000, said it was a fantastic experience. Only one Czech, Tomas Enge, has ever driven in a Formula 1 race.
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