By Andrew Warshaw
October 20 – Within hours of being embroiled in match-fixing scandal that has rocked his country, the vice-chairman of the Czech FA, Roman Berbr, has handed in his resignation despite having vehemently denied any involvement.
Berbr, 66, was detained on Sunday following sweeping corruption-busting raids across the country by criminal investigators.
Twenty-four hours later through his legal team, he announced his resignation from all football positions following an extraordinary meeting of the Czech FA’s executive committee, a decision reluctantly accepted by FA president Martin Malík.
“I have said several times that I am terrified of what would happen if Roman Berbr’s end in football came suddenly and unexpectedly. I just hope that football can recover from this change in a positive sense,” Malík was quoted as saying by local media.
Berbr is one of 20 people accused of allegedly influencing the results of second and third tier games via referees.
“All of us, who are active in Czech football, we let this happen,” said Malik. “The situation which we are dealing with now is abnormal. It is an attack against the very essence of football. I cannot tell how big the impact will be.”
Malík admitted that he considered resigning himself due to the scandal but that in the end he decided to stay on the grounds that it was not the time for further disruption.
“It was one of the variants that I have been dealing with in recent days, and it would be strange if it were not so,” he said.
“On the other hand, at the moment, there is no room for us to start politicizing and deciding who will sit in which chair, instead of taking the necessary steps.”
One of those steps has been to dismiss Czech football’s entire referee commission including its chairman Jozef Chovanec.
A seven-point plan has been put in place to address the situation, described by Malik as “the beginning of a long journey during which Czech football… must regain the trust of fans, partners and the general public.”
“We need to put in place measures to prevent similar situations. If Czech football is to win, we must come together, talk constructively together and come up with solutions.”
Malík said he plans to meet with state officials to discuss the creation of a special police department to deal with the issue of match-fixing.
He has also personally contacted UEFA to “inform them about what is happening in the Czech Republic. Of course, we are in close contact with UEFA regarding proposed solutions.”
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