Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Roma players score international solidarity in Czech Republic

23 September 2014, 10:46

Decn - Roma footballers in the Czech Republic had a hard time finding rivals until a select international squad stepped up to set an example.

Foreign diplomats including the Swedish ambassador travelled to the northern town of Decin, home to a large Roma community, for a weekend match against the Junior Roma team.

The small side of Roma amateurs has played and lost two games this season in a regional league, but it also earned nine points for three wins after three teams forfeited matches.

"The guys from those teams told us openly: 'You're gypsies, we're not playing against you'," Patrik Herak, a Junior Roma goalkeeper or defender, told AFP.

"It seems we are too black for them," he added.

An EU member of 10.5 million people, the Czech Republic has a Roma minority of 250,000-300,000 people, hit hard by poverty, unemployment and other social woes.

Many Czechs are hostile towards the community, some going so far as to pull their kids out of schools with Roma children.

"Racism is quite strong here," said Herak, commenting on the decisions of the Frantiskov, Rybniste and Bynovec teams to lose 3-0 by forfeit after declining to play Junior Roma.

The Czech Football Association (FACR) said in a statement it did "not find a racist context related to the unplayed games".

But Annika Jagander, Sweden's ambassador to Prague, didn't buy it and promptly set up a squad of diplomats hailing from a dozen countries to play the Roma footballers.

"Sport should contribute to tolerance and understanding," Jagander said before she ceremonially kicked-off play in Decin on Sunday.

She said she hoped the friendly match between Junior Roma and FC Embassies Prague would "help improve the situation."

 'Extremely pleasant'

The match ended in a 5-5 draw and was viewed by around 200 enthusiastic fans, including 150 Roma.

The solidarity was "extremely pleasant not only for the footballers, but for all Roma in Decin," Junior Roma manager Pavel Horvath told AFP.

The three teams that forfeited games against the Roma team have explained their behaviour by accusing Junior Roma players of "acting in a vulgar and aggressive way".

"They have attacked rival players and the referee. Our guys were afraid of them," said Martin Klein, from the Frantiskov team.

Patrik Herak admits to being involved in a violent incident on the pitch three years ago.

"There was a foul on my brother, three guys were on top of him. I ran there to help him and dealt a few blows, including to the referee," he said.

"I got sent off and the game was suspended," added Herak, who has been playing football since age five.

Banned from the sport for three years, Herak feels he has made amends.

Also read: Matano: We're still in contention

"Believe me, I have learnt a lesson. Today I'm ashamed of myself. The referee was 70 years old," said Herak, who works as a dustman in Decin.

 No show, no guts

"There have definitely been some bad experiences, but to refuse to play, that's not positive at all," former Czech Republic striker Vladimir Smicer, who won fame with Liverpool, Lens and Bordeaux, told AFP.

Smicer was born in Vernerice, a village near Decin. The local team played against Junior Roma as scheduled and the game was not tarnished by a single incident.

Regional clubs at Junior Roma's level are due to meet soon to clarify their positions on playing the team.

"In agreement with Junior Roma, we want to offer the clubs who have lost to Junior Roma by forfeit the chance to replay their games," said Libor Simecek, the head of the Decin district football association.


Tags roma soccer

Arsenal can last pace, says Wenger

22 October 2016, 09:37

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Submitted by
Victor Tinto
EACC officers raid Deputy Governo...

EACC officers raided the home of a Deputy Governor as theft case continues in court. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
New IEBC bosses to be named Novem...

New IEBC bosses will be named on November 30. Read more...

Submitted by
William Korir
DP Ruto has spoilt my name, activ...

DP William Ruto has spoilt my name, activist complains. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Apologise for attack on Auditor G...

Apologise for attack on Auditor General, President Uhuru Kenyatta is told by Kisumu Senator Anyang Nyong'o. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Quit if you can't fight corruptio...

An MP has told President Uhuru Kenyatta to quit office if he cannot fight corruption. Read more...

Submitted by
Wilson Ochieng
Investigate Uhuru, Ruto for corru...

Investigate President Uhuru Kenyatta and DP William Ruto's offices over corruption, CORD leader Raila Odinga has said. Read more...