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HN: Czech football loses sponsors due to subsidy scandal

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Prague, June 14 (CTK) – The sport subsidy fraud, in which the Czech Football Association long-standing chief seems to be the main suspect and due to which state subsidies for Czech sport were not paid out, has been driving sponsors away from Czech football, daily Hospodarske noviny (HN) wrote on Wednesday.

Former Czech Football Association head Miroslav Pelta is suspected of manipulations with the state subsidies for sport distributed by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.

The football association receives finances from sponsors from the STES agency, which also finds partners for the national team and the top football league. In total, sponsors give hundreds of millions of crowns a year to Czech football, the paper writes.

T-Mobile mobile phone operator has been sponsoring the national team since 1998. T-Mobile provides about 30 million a year within the current contract, which makes the company the team’s main sponsor and is to expire in 2020, HN writes.

“We have been following all the developments and we are alarmed that the football association failed to elect a new management and set a clear course for future,” T-Mobile spokesman Tomas Leixner said. He said T-Mobile would talk to STES representatives soon because the situation is not comfortable for the company.

Another big sponsor of the national team, the Chinese investment company CEFC, threatened to reduce its financial support or even completely halt it, HN writes.

PepsiCo, which also sponsors the team, showed its disappointment. “Football is devalued by what is happening. Fewer entities will be ready to give money to football,” PepsiCo Czech branch head Josef Neumann said.

The top Czech football league does not have the main sponsor for the next season. The company, whose name the league bore in the past season, did not use its option for the next season. STES director Martin Malik said negotiations with two entities were underway.

Last year, the Fortuna betting company signed a contract on the sponsoring of the league in 2018-2024. Fortuna said the league is to be managed by the football clubs themselves, not by the football association anymore, which would make it more transparent.

The Gambrinus brewery, which has sponsored the top league since 1997, will end the partnership after the next season. “The affairs in top football and the long-term unwillingness of the football association to take major steps to improve its reputation harm us as well,” Gambrinus marketing manager Marek Dvorak said.

The Tipsport betting company announced that it would not fund football anymore. Both Tipsport and Gambrinus also were partners of the national team, HN writes.

The paper writes that the 2017 budget of the Czech Football Association was projected at 968 million crowns. Most of the sum, 625 million crowns, were to be subsidies from the ministry.

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