Czech football at low ebb after coach sacked and six players kicked out of squad for drinking scandal

Milan Baroš, photo: CTK

Czech football is at one of its lowest ebbs in years. As well as doing poorly on the field, the national team has been embroiled in scandal off it, with reports that players went out partying after losing to Slovakia in Prague last week. Now the coach has been sacked, the captain has retired and six players have been expelled from the national squad.

Václav Svěrkoš,  Tomáš Ujfaluši  (right),  photo: CTK
The Czech international football set-up is currently in disarray to say the least. On the field, reaching the 2010 World Cup in South Africa is no longer in the Czechs’ own hands – with only eight points in six games, they will need to win all their remaining qualifiers and hope the teams ahead of them slip up.

A toothless draw away to Slovenia set alarm bells ringing, with defeat to Slovakia in Prague last Wednesday confirming how far the Czech Republic have fallen since the days they were regularly very near the top of the FIFA world rankings.

But if losing that “derby” against the Slovaks was bad enough, press photographs of several star players partying just hours later in the company of a bevy of young women raised the ire of both fans and the little-respected Czech football association. One player was shown evidently urinating on the street.

It wasn’t the first time Czech internationals had been caught by the paparazzi drinking with girls, and some of the national team’s sponsors have issued statements of disapproval. Meanwhile, the head of the Czech FA suggested the players might be getting into trouble as they have low IQs.

Captain Tomáš Ujfaluši, one of those implicated, issued a statement a couple of days ago saying he and his team-mates had merely gone out to discuss where things had gone wrong in their World Cup qualifiers. However, his declaration was ripped to shreds in the media and the defender announced on Tuesday he was retiring from international football.

Milan Baroš,  photo: CTK
When Blesk broke the story of the players’ late night revelry on their front page on Friday the tabloid added: and there’s worse news – coach Rada is staying. In the end Petr Rada stayed only a few more days, before being sacked on Wednesday afternoon. He had overseen only six competitive matches.

Rada had always been a somewhat unlikely choice as manager: he was assistant to Karel Brueckner during the latter, less successful years of his tenure as Czech boss, and had himself helmed clubs of no greater calibre than Teplice and Viktoria Plzeň.

While Rada’s dismissal had been widely predicted, the Czech FA’s decision to expell the six players pictured in the papers (Ujfaluši, Václav Svěrkoš, Milan Baroš, Martin Fenin, Radoslav Kováč and Marek Matějovský) from the national squad came as more of a surprise.

If there is any good news for Czech football fans at the moment, it is probably that the team’s next competitive games are not until September, when they take on Slovakia away and San Marino at home with the aim of keeping their hopes of reaching South Africa in 2010 alive.