Czech international fined for Nazi gesture08 September 2007

The Czech football association has fined Pavel Horvath, Czech international midfielder for Sparta Prague for giving a Nazi salute during the game between Sparta and Viktoria Zizkov.

The player is to pay about 7.000 Euro for repeatedly raising his right hand towards fans during the league game on Aug 25th, the gesture resembling the Nazi Sieg Heil salute.

The disciplinary commission had requested an expert opinion before making its decision on Thursday evening.

“We agree with expert opinion that Horvath unfortunately used a Nazi heil gesture”, CTK news agency cited the head of the FA's disciplinary commission Alexander Karolyi as saying. “We definitely do not want such displays in our football”.

The commission had asked extremism expert Miroslav Mares for his opinion. “The expert ruled out intolerance and extremism, but it is highly probable that he (Horvath) performed a part of the Nazi salute. He probably thought that he would entertain the fans, who most probably include extremist followers, and that they would be calmer”, said Karolyi, quoting the expert opinion.

Horvath, who was backed by his club, said that he is not a racist and that he only tried to calm down screaming fans. “I have apologized for it. I am sorry if I have hurt anyone unintentionally”, CTK quoted the midfielder as saying. “I again stress that the whole gesture was unfortunate…and that it was not meant as a Nazi or racist gesture”, he said.

Sparta spokesman Lukas Pribyl said the club respected the commission's verdict and would not appeal.