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Hate and Sparta Prague

I’m leading this story about soccer fans in Prague with a picture of the city of Pilsen for those who don’t want to see the potentially graphic and offensive image I’ve included below the page break. It’s a symbol of hate speech towards the LGBTQIA+ community and includes a crude image involving two stick figures.

Pilsen was beautiful, though. So was Prague. Actually the entirety of the country was beautiful when I visited for a week in August of 2014 during Pride Week.

Prague is a clean, cheap, and progressive city with amazing food, wonderful sights, and kind locals. Which is why the tifo at the Sparta Prague match against Banik Ostrava really surprised me. I took this photo just as an ear-splitting explosion of fireworks erupted in the stands.

The ultras displayed this right before the game as I watched in a half full stadium from roughly the midfield line. A few fans in our section laughed. Some others rolled their eyes. And a couple didn’t react at all.

I asked the man next for me for a translation of the wording and he said that their statement said something like, “three colors are enough, darling.” The three colors being those of Sparta and not the seven in the rainbow flag.

This was seven years ago and I’ve never been able to find any other mention of this incident anywhere on the internet. There were no punishments from FIFA or UEFA. There are no reports of it ever taking place. In fact, when I researched today, a tweet I sent a while back came up as one of the first few results on Google.

There are, however, a few stories about Sparta’s right wing fans taking stances that are either anti-Semitic, bigoted towards refugees, or against Islam. You can read about those here or here.

Of course, none of this makes sense from a historical standpoint in this part of the world. Prague was one of the first and longest to suffer the horrors of the Nazi regime during German occupation. In 1942 two brave resistance soldiers assassinated acting governor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the coward Reinhard Heydrich. The Nazis reportedly arrested 13,000 Czechs and killed as many as 5,000 more of a race of people they didn’t consider fully human.

And now, there’s a small group of fans from the country’s most popular and successful team, bringing hate back to the stadium towards a group of people they don’t consider fully human. Other than a few small fines, it doesn’t look like anyone has ever been held accountable. It’s an attitude that must change.

I'm not really sure what I can do here in California, but it feels like finally writing about this incident when no one else has is at least a small step forward in acknowledging that a problem exists.


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