Prague, Oct 11 (CTK) – China is going to stop financing the Slavia Praha football club as part of its steps taken in retaliation for the termination of the Prague-Beijing partnership agreement, Czech President Milos Zeman told TV Barrandov on Thursday night.
“China reacts by retaliatory measures. Some airlines that were to fly to Prague are to be deflected to Croatia. But most importantly, the financing of Slavia Praha is to be stopped. As you know, Slavia was the most successful Chinese investment in the country,” Zeman said.
Slavia, which has had Chinese owners for four years, neither confirmed nor refuted this information.
Slavia spokesman Michal Bycek tweeted that the club is fully concentrating on the forthcoming home match with FC Barcelona in the Champions League group stage.
Slavia is playing the Champions League group stage after 12 years.
Slavia board chairman Jaroslav Tvrdik said he appreciated that Zeman considered Slavia the most successful Chinese investment in the Czech Republic and that Zeman admired the club’s rise and successes.
Slavia was the Czech football league’s champion in the past season, the runner-up in the previous season and the champion in 2016/2017, having won the league after eight years once again after its crisis. The Chinese owner paid the club’s debt and bought Prague’s Eden Arena in which the team plays its home matches.
In late 2015, China Energy Company Limited (CEFC) became the majority owner of Slavia. In early 2018, it turned out that CEFC had serious financial problems and the China firm CITIC Group bought the club and its arena. In late 2018, CITIC transferred Slavia’s majority stake to the Chinese company Sinobo Group.
Tvrdik, who represents the Chinese owners in the club, previously criticised the Prague City Council for its dispute with China. He said it is a scandal that the Prague politicians ended cooperation with Beijing, which is the sister city of London, Berlin, Rome, Paris, Washington and New York. He recalled that the One China policy and recognition of the territorial integrity of China is the official policy of the Czech governments and the European Union.
On Monday, Prague politicians decided to withdraw from the sister city agreement with Beijing because China refused to enter talks about removing a clause stating that Prague respects the One China policy from the agreement. Beijing withdrew from the agreement on Wednesday.
Prague’s political leaders said that the Czech capital city had been forced to include the article on One China in the agreement and that it had no place in a pact of sister cities. The City of Prague is currently ruled by the Pirates, the Prague to Itself grouping and the Joint Forces for Prague alliance.
In the last few months, Chinese authorities did not permit concerts by Czech classical music ensembles which have Prague in their name and which were to play in China.
Zeman said in September he respected the cancelling of Czech music performances by China as a retaliation for the actions of Prague Mayor Hrib (Pirates), though he considered these retaliatory steps unreasonable.