Sport

Sport plays a significant part in the life of many Czechs who are generally loyal supporters of their favourite teams or individuals.

The two leading sports in the Czech Republic are football and ice hockey, both drawing the largest attention of both the media and supporters. The many other sports with professional leagues and structures include basketball, volleyball, team handball, Czech handball, athletics, floorball and others. Sport is a source of strong waves of patriotism, usually rising several days or weeks before an event and sinking several days after.

The events considered the most important by Czech fans are: the Ice Hockey World Championship, the Olympic ice hockey tournament, the European football championship, the football World Cup and qualification matches for such events. In general, any international match involving the Czech ice hockey or football national team draws attention, especially when played against a traditional rival: Germany in football; Russia, Finland, Sweden and Canada in ice hockey; and Slovakia in both.

Both summer and winter Olympic games are also very popular.

Football is the most popular sport in the Czech Republic. The Czech Football Association has run the country´s top league, the 1st league, since l925. The most popular club, AC Sparta Praha, have been remarkably successful in both domestic and European contests. Czechoslovakia were runners-up in the 1934 and 1962 World Cups, European champions in 1976 and the Czech Republic narrowly lost to Germany in the finals of 1996´s European championships held in England. F. Plánička, I. Bican, J. Masopust, I. Viktor, A. Panenka, Z. Nehoda, T. Skuhravý, K. Poborský, P. Berger and P. Nedvěd are among the most famous Czech footballers.

For years Czechoslovakia's national ice hockey teams have ranked among the top five or six national teams in the world. The national ice hockey team have won the World Hockey Championships seven times (the last time in 1996 in Vienna). They came 2nd in the Canada Cup in 1976. Today, Czech ice hockey suffers from a mass exodus of its best players to foreign leagues, especially to the NHL. Among the most famous players to have left are J. Jágr, D. Hašek, M. Straka, R. Holík, R. Reichel, M.Ručínský and V. Vujtek. V. Nedomanský, J. Holeček.

Czech tennis players have been remarkably successful in international competitions. One of them, Martina Navrátilová, is arguably the best female tennis player of all time. Many other male and female tennis players have appeared in the top 100 rankings of international tennis.

Czech athletes have made a great impression on track and field competitions. The runners E. Zátopek and J. Kratochvílová, the javelin-throwers D. Zátopková , J. Železný and B. Špotáková, the discus-throwers L. Daněk and I. Bugár, the decathletes R. Změlík and R. Šebrle, the shot-putters H. Fibingerová and R. Machura and others are among the most famous Czech athletes.

Sport shooting is the third most widespread sport in the Czech Republic. Among notable shooters is Kateřina Emmons, who won the gold in 2008 Summer Olympics.

Cricket has been played in the Czech Republic since 1997, however, as a sports body, joined the ICC International Cricket Council in 2000.

The Czech Cricket Union is the official governing body of the sport of cricket in Czech Republic. Its current headquarters is in Prague. The Czech Cricket Union is the Czech Republic's representative at the International Cricket Council and is an affiliate member. It is also a member of the European Cricket Council.