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19 charged in major Czech football bribery probe. Association director admits having ‘no solution to this problem’

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

NINETEEN individuals have been charged and four among them arrested in connection with a major financial corruption case within the leadership of Czech football.  

Deputy chair of the Czech Football Association Roman Berbr was one of those arrested. He now faces allegations of match-fixing and bribery, as do his contacts in the country’s refereeing association.

Mr Berbr and senior refereeing personnel have since resigned amid calls for reform, Radio Prague International reports.

However, even though Czech Football Association head Martin Malík has pledged an end to corruption within Czech football, he said, “I’m not going to lie; I currently have no solution to this problem, but I am open to discussion and new ideas.”

The scandal revolves around match-fixing in both the second and third divisions of the country’s national league. Sports director of the Slavoj Vyšehrad club Roman Rogoz regularly approached Berbr requesting a specific result in upcoming matches.

Mr Berbr would comply by asking contacts in the refereeing association to arrange the results as requested. A system of mass bribery was set up to support this.

It is also understood that coaches of other teams would be contacted on occasion and asked to select weaker players with the intention of losing to Slavoj Vyšehrad.

The former chair of the refereeing association is Mr Berbr’s long-time partner, who has been entrusted with officiating major past events such as Women’s Olympic finals, European Championship finals, and Champions League finals.

Mr Malík insisted he did not believe she knew of her husband’s dealings.

Speaking on what is now being described as the “biggest scandal in the modern history of Czech football,” Mr Malík said the time has come for major reform, particularly in securing the independence of the Czech refereeing system from financial corruption.

His aim is to bring the system in line with conventions set by UEFA – an organisation which has also suffered reputational damage in recent years for extensive cases of bribery and other financial crime.

The case is now currently making its way through Czech courts. 

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