Sports News

Josef Masopust, photo: ČTK

In Sports News: Czech football all-time great Masopust dies at 84; defending champion Kvitová battles illness ahead of Wimbledon first round match; Šafářová in spotlight at All England Club after reaching French Open final; and Prague’s Podolí swimming stadium celebrates 50th anniversary.

Football legend Josef Masopust dies at 84

Josef Masopust,  photo: ČTK
The great Czech footballer Josef Masopust died on Monday at the age of 84. Masopust was the first of only two Czech players to be named European Player of the Year. The central midfielder picked up that hugely prestigious award in 1962, the same year he opened the scoring in the World Cup final against Brazil, though his Czechoslovakia side eventually lost 3:1.

In an earlier group game against the same opponents Pele was injured but stayed on the pitch as substitutes were not allowed in those days. As Masopust recounted half a century later in 2012, the great Brazilian was flabbergasted when the Czech sportingly ordered his teammates not to attack as Pele had been effectively hamstrung (the game ended 0:0).

“He said, The whole of my footballing life they’ve treated me like a punch-bag – but now I’ve experienced something beyond my comprehension… From that time I’ve had a great relationship with Brazilian supporters. They admire me for that gesture, because Pele was and is the king to them.”

Title holder Kvitová battling illness ahead of Wimbledon return

Petra Kvitová,  foto: Luděk Špidla,  Česká sportovní
In line with tradition, defending women’s champion Petra Kvitová will play her first round match at Wimbledon on day two of the tennis Grand Slam on Tuesday. It is the second time the Czech is beginning Wimbledon in that position, though on this occasion it is with a certain handicap: the 25-year-old has been battling with illness. Kvitová says she’s on the road to recovery – but regrets missing the traditional Wimbledon warm-up Eastbourne.

“I’ve still got a head cold but it’s nowhere near as bad as it was. I stayed in bed and was glad I could doze during the day. Luckily I haven’t had to take antibiotics… Not having trained means the nerves and pressure will be greater. Unfortunately I didn’t manage to play a single match, which isn’t much of a confidence booster. But I said it’s better not to play than to play and lose in the first round.”

All eyes on Šafářová after career elevation

Lucie Šafářová,  foto: Archivo de ČRo
Of the other Czech ladies in action at the All England Club the most intense focus is likely to be on Lucie Šafářová. This year has seen the 28-year-old left hander climb to a career-best sixth in the world rankings and reach her first Grand Slam final at the French Open. Šafářová says her new status means opponents feel they have nothing to lose and play better. But that has been the case since the start of the year, when she climbed to 15th in the rankings, she told

Prague’s Podolí swimming stadium marks 50 years

Swimming stadium Podolí,  photo: Filip Jandourek,  ČRo
Prague’s top swimming stadium, Podolí, has just been celebrating the 50th anniversary of its opening. Podolí, which had the country’s third indoor 50-metre pool, has hosted such competitions as the biannual European Swimming Masters Championships and is used by the country’s international swimmers, water polo players and synchronised swimmers.