Czech Republic: Embassy employees invite rejected Romani footballers to protest match
News server iDNES.cz reports that employees of the embassies of Great Britain, Northern European countries and the USA are traveling to the Czech town of Děčín to play football with the Junior Roma Football Club, which recently participated in the third-class district championship there. The embassy staffers are responding to the fact that several teams in that competition rebelled and refused to compete with the Romani footballers.
"I was very pleased that the foreigners want to play with us. It's clear that the culture of those nations is on a different level than ours. They aren't bothered by the fact that we're Gypsies, that our skin color is different," Junior Roma trainer Pavel Horváth said.
Junior Roma has played only one match on the pitch so far and won its previous two matches through forfeit when its competitors refused to play. The clubs justified their forfeiture by saying their players are afraid of the Romani club's fans and players.
In 2011 there was a brawl during a football match in Děčín involving a different Romani team. Even though this year's Junior Roma team has different people on it than the team that played there three years ago, the other clubs will not accept them.
Horváth sees the other clubs' refusal to play as racism. The embassy employees will come to Děčín's Municipal Stadium on 21 September with their families.
"We will have enough players to relieve each other and we are really looking forward to the match," said Helena Stiessová of the Swedish Embassy, the main organizer of the friendly match. "Discrimination and prejudice are a Europe-wide problem, countries grapple with it in all areas and sport, unfortunately, is no exception. We are giving a red card to racism by holding this friendly match," said Swedish Ambassador Annika Jagander, who will personally travel to Děčín in person to perform the honorary kickoff.
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