Sparta faces scandal for fielding 'ill' players
Sparta Prague is facing disciplinary action and possible punishment from the Czech football federation for fielding players the club claimed were not able to play international matches due to illness or injury.
Sparta said strikers Vaclav Kadlec and Tomas Pekhart were ill with a virus and not able to play for the Czech Republic's under-21 team at the Netherlands on Wednesday, while a knee injury ruled out Croatia defender Manuel Pamic from a friendly against the Czechs.
But all the three, using different names on their backs, played against Zenit St. Petersburg in Spain on Tuesday in a warmup for next week's Europa League match against Liverpool.
Sparta issued an apology Thursday after Zenit published photos from the match.
Sparta said coach Josef Chovanec was to blame because he didn't consult the club's headquarters and was fined.
Chovanec said his decision right before the match's kickoff was ''spontaneous'' because he wanted to test the players before the Liverpool game.
''I didn't realize at the moment what consequences my decision could have,'' he said.
Sparta originally said a relatively unknown Pavel Kaderabek scored both goals in a 2-1 win over Zenit and only later acknowledged that Kadlec, playing in Kaderabek's jersey, was the scorer.
Sparta said the proper jerseys were not immediately available due to Chovanec's last-minute decision.
Federation spokesman Jaroslav Kolar said the disciplinary committee is set to discuss the case in a Feb. 21 or 22 meeting.