Czech Team Scraps Friendly After Top Slovak Football Club Plays Russians
Slavia Praha football club has pulled out of a friendly match against current Slovak league champions Slovan Bratislava after the latter played a game against a Russian club.
Slavia Praha were due to face Slovan, but backed out when they decides to play Dinamo Moscow in a game arranged as part of a training camp in Qatar this month. Slovan lost the game 2-1.
The move drew criticism, including in Ukraine where Ukrainian football teams called on Slovan to not go ahead with the match. Taking to social media, FC Karpaty Lviv posted a photo of a stadium hit by Russian rockets.
But speaking to the Denník N daily, club owner and business tycoon Ivan Kmotrík defended the decision. He said: “Who should we have played when Dinamo was there as well? We wanted an equal rival, we could have played against Zlaté Moravce at home.”
Zlaté Moravce are bottom of the Niké Liga, the top division in the country’s league.
However, when Slavia Praha announced they would not play the match, it was FC ViOn Zlaté Moravce that stepped up and offered to play them instead.
The match between the two is set to be played in early February in Prague with the Czech club saying it will refund the travel costs of Zlaté Moravce fans.
Revenue from ticket sales will go to supporting Ukraine.
When @SKSlovan preparing to play with dinamo moscow, another russians hit 🇺🇦 civil&football infrastructure.
📸 – FC “Lokomotyv” Kyiv, Second League participant.
— ФК Карпати Львів / FC Karpaty Lviv (@KarpatyLvivFC) January 23, 2024
In a statement Wednesday, Slovan argued it didn’t violate any regulation by playing Dynamo. Director general Ivan Kmotrík Jr. said the club rejected accusations that it “legitimized a military conflict in any way.”
“We’re against any war,” he said.
Kmotrík said athletes should not be discriminated against because of their nationality or origin and added it is right that Russians are allowed to participate in the NHL or WTA and ATP tennis tournaments.
Russia’s clubs have been been banned from European competitions since the invasion. Ukrainian teams have to play their games abroad.
When UEFA and its president Aleksander Ceferin moved in September to reintegrate Russia’s national under-17 teams to its competitions, it provoked a backlash from some European member federations who continued to refuse to let their youth teams play Russia.
UEFA withdrew the proposal within two weeks.
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