Czech Ice Hockey Union fines club because its fans called Romani player a "gypsy", cites World Romani Congress
The Disciplinary Commission of the Czech Ice Hockey Union (ČSLH) has punished the premiere league Prostějov team by fining it CZK 10 000 (EUR 388) over the racist behavior of its fans during a friendly match against Vítkovice this summer when supporters of the Prostějov Jestřáby ("Hawks") insulted Vítkovice forward Dominik Lakatoš. On the basis of a video recording of the incident, the Disciplinary Commission concluded that "there has been a violation of the provisions of the Competition and Disciplinary Rules requiring clubs to ensure that their supporters do not engage in slandering any nation, race or ethnic group or its individual members for their actual or suspected race, ethnicity, nationality, political beliefs, religious confession or sexual orientation," ČSLH press spokesperson Zdeněk Zikmund stated in a press release.
The match between Prostějov and Vítkovice was played on 30 August and ended ahead of time at 59:03. After Lakatoš scored a goal for Vítkovice, bringing the score to 4:2, spectators began to shout racist insults at him - so the visiting team left the ice in protest.
Prostějov defended its fans through manager Jiří Vykoukal, who said Lakatoš had caused the entire incident himself through his allegedly "inappropriate behavior" during the match. According to the ČSLH Disciplinary Commission's decision, however, Lakatoš "did nothing to provoke spectators, specifically, supporters of [Prostějov], during the match."
The Disciplinary Commission of the Czech Extraliga, the highest-level ice hockey league in the Czech Republic, had previously arrived at that same decision. Prostějov objected to the allegation that the behavior of their fans had been racist.
"As for the shouting at this arrogant, unsportsmanlike player that is being considered so problematic: the Dictionary of Literary Czech defines the word 'gypsy' as literary, and therefore it is not a derogatory expression," Vykoukal told the website hokej.cz. The ČSLH Disciplinary Commission objected to that justification too.
"From the resources about the issue of the correct designation to use for ethnic Romani persons that are available and published, among other places, directly on the www.romea.cz website, it can be seen that the founding congress of the International Romani Union in London in 1971 declared the term 'Roma' as the term Romani people prefer to be called by majority-society people if their racial difference is to be brought up and that the Romani community perceives the designation 'gypsy' to be derogatory," the ČSLH Disciplinary Commission said, referring to the Romea.cz news server. The fans' behavior was unequivocally "an absolutely inappropriate, primitive assault on the human dignity" of Lakatoš, the commission concluded.
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