News 17 April 2015

Police investigating Czech ice-hockey coach

Police in the Czech Republic are investigating media allegations that national team coach, Vladimír Růžička, accepted a bribe from a player’s father in order to ensure that his stayed on Slavia Prague’s 2012/13 team. According to local reports, entrepreneur Miroslav Palaščák secretly taped a meeting with Růžička, who formerly coached Slavia, where he offered to pay him two instalments of CZK250,000 (€9,000) in exchange for a promise that his son, David, would return from his loan to lower-league clubs.

Růžička has admitted taking the money, but said that he at first understood that it was a donation to the club programme, then considered it a loan, and finally returned the money in November 2014, adding that Slavia Prague knew about the situation. It is understood that David Palaščák did not play for Slavia Prague again.

Slavia Prague distanced itself from the allegations. ‘HC Slavia Prague knows nothing about the sponsorship donation of CZK500,000’, read a 13 April statement. ‘The connecting link is indeed Vladimír Růžička, but he acted for himself, not for the club’. Slavia denied that it knew about the money, adding that it had not been recognised in the club’s accounts, so could not have been connected to a club programme or sponsorship donation. ‘How and for what purpose he received the money, Vladimír Růžička should promptly disclose and explain’.

In contrast, the Czech Republic Ice Hockey Association supported Růžička and suggested that the allegations were an attempt to discredit him ahead of the Ice Hockey World Championships, which the Czech Republic is hosting. ‘The national team is preparing for the Ice Hockey World Championships in Prague and Ostrava, and strongly supports coach Vladimír Růžička’, read a 14 April statement. ‘Despite this negative campaign timed for the period before the World Championships, we want to wholly devote ourselves to preparations for the climatic event of the season taking place in our home environment’.

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