17-05-2004

Czech wins swimming gold

Ilona Hlavackova, photo: CTKIlona Hlavackova, photo: CTK In swimming there were Czech celebrations at the European championships in Madrid on Sunday. The world silver medalist, Ilona Hlavackova won the women's 50m backstroke in 29 seconds exactly, snatching the European title from world and defending European champion Nina Zhivanevskaya of Spain, by 0.03 of a second. It was the first gold of Hlavackova's career in the championships.

Football season ends with victory for Banik, tears for Zizkov

The Czech Republic's top football league wound up over the weekend. It was a dream of a season for Banik Ostrava, who won the title at the expense of the footballing giants Sparta Prague, who had to make do with second place. It was a welcome challenge to the Czech capital's dominance in the sport. Victory was largely thanks to a hugely successful first half of the season. Aptly the top striker of the league season was Banik's Marek Heinz.

Sigma Olomouc also had plenty of reasons to celebrate, coming in third, and their goalie Martin Vaniak was popping the champagne corks as the season's most successful keeper. In Sigma's last match against Viktoria Plzen, he clocked up an impressive record for the club, a hundred games with a clean slate.

Plzen ended up at the bottom of the table, and go down along with Viktoria Zizkov. Zizkov's fate is one of the sad stories of the season - only two years ago they were close to snatching the title.

Crowd trouble casts a final shadow over a troubled season

Fans' riot, photo: CTKFans' riot, photo: CTK We should have been celebrating the end of a successful season, but Monday's headlines could hardly have been more depressing for football. Banik Ostrava's last game of the season was a derby against nearby Opava, and the match was marred by serious crowd trouble. Banik fans started by wrecking two coaches of the train they were travelling in to the match, and then proceeded to beat up and injure a passer-by who took refuge in a church. After the match they clashed with police, and caused hundreds of thousands of crowns worth of damage to the stadium. Dozens were injured. Crowd trouble has been a serious problem this season, and police estimate that its cost to the tax payer since the beginning of this year alone has been over 14 million crowns.

Synot up for sale

Synot stadium, photo: CTKSynot stadium, photo: CTK The other gloomy football headline is the sad denouement of the scandal revolving around fifth place Synot, from the Moravian town of Uherske Hradiste. The club's chairman and owner, businessman Miroslav Valenta, said on Sunday that the club was being put up for sale. It has been at the centre of a mushrooming match-fixing scandal involving five referees and the former Synot sports director. Miroslav Valenta said that two weeks of scandal-mongering against Synot had undone the years of work that his family had devoted to building up the club. Synot has also cancelled its participation in the Intertoto Cup.

The chances of Synot surviving in its current form are slim. It lies in a relatively poor and largely rural part of the country with few obvious sponsors around. The cost of buying the players alone would be well over a hundred million crowns. If a buyer isn't found in the next two months Synot will be dissolved, and its newly renovated stadium will go on the market.

Whatever the future of Synot, the match-fixing scandal looks set to run and run.

17-05-2004

Choose Karel Gott´s greatest hit (More)