Thursday, October 22, 2020

Police raids Czech Football Association, arrest vice-president in corruption probe

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Czech police have detained 20 people including deputy Czech Football Association head Roman Berbr over alleged corruption and match-fixing following a nationwide raid, news reports said.

“The police have launched criminal proceedings against 20 people today … regarding an organised crime group active in corruption to fix results of football matches,” High State Prosecutor Lenka Bradacova told Reuters news agency on Friday, confirming earlier reports by local media.

Czech Football Association spokesman Michael Jurman confirmed the raid.

“We can confirm that since the morning the police have acted, including a search at the association headquarters,” Jurman said. “We are providing the police with maximum cooperation.”

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Local media said those detained included Berbr, a controversial deputy chairman of the Czech Football Association, but Bradacova declined to say whether the long-time official had been charged or detained.

Jurman also declined to comment on the news reports, and Berbr could not be immediately reached for comment.

The case centres on alleged match-fixing in the second and third tiers of Czech football, and officials are also investigating a number of referees, Seznam Zpravy news website reported.

Berbr has held his post since 2013 and according to local media has been pulling the strings in Czech football for years.

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The 66-year-old former referee, who is married to the European Union member’s first-ever female referee, Dagmar Damkova, served as a secret police agent during the communist era.

Media have pointed to Berbr in relation to corruption cases and bullying at the FA, but he has never been charged.

His former boss Miroslav Pelta led the FA until he was detained in 2017 on charges of bribery and abuse of power. He faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted in a trial currently under way.

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