Brno footballers face lie-detector tests after poor spell

Photo: FC Zbrojovka Brno

The Czech first division football club Brno has not had a good season so far. After a series of humiliating defeats, which have left Brno second from bottom going into the winter break, the patience of the club’s owner is at an end. He has taken the extraordinary step of asking both players and the team’s manager to undergo voluntary lie detector tests.

Roman Pros, photo: FC Zbrojovka Brno
Brno, or FC Zbrojovka Brno to give the club its full title, has taken very little silverware since its foundation in 1913. But recently performances have got so bad that the club’s management has reason to suspect foul play. Apart from slashing 25 percent of player’s salaries for December, officials have taken the radical step of ordering a polygraph on which both players and coach will be asked to undergo lie detector tests several times a year. Brno’s owner, Roman Pros, says that in view of widespread speculation that the players could be deliberately fixing matches it is time to face the problem squarely.

“We need a proper analysis of the situation. Then we can say – OK, we are playing rotten football and it is because the players are not in shape, the coach did a poor job or the tactics were wrong. But we’ll know for certain that match-rigging was not involved.”

The use of lie detector tests will be written into the club’s code of conduct and included in both new contracts and any extended contracts with the team’s current players. For the others the test will be voluntary, but the management expects them to comply when the situation warrants such a test. They would be questioned not just about match-fixing but about their diets and exercise routines –basically anything that could have influenced their performance. The announcement has evoked shock among the players and all of them are said to have rejected the tests outright. Defender Jan Trousil says he and his team-mates have not taken the news well:

Photo: FC Zbrojovka Brno
“When we heard the announcement yesterday we were all taken aback. The mood is stormy, the whole team feels very badly about the whole thing and we consider it rather degrading.”

Degrading or not, the management is standing firmly behind its decision – it has indicated that anyone unwilling to comply may be fined. As Roman Pros says, there is big money involved in football and if the team is losing matches the club has the right to know why.