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President defends presence of mafia in sport

IN AN INTERVIEW published by Slovakia’s new news server, aktualne.sk, President Ivan Gašparovič appeared to defend the financing of sports in the country by organized crime.

Asked whether it bothered him as a sports fan that sports in Slovakia are allegedly still financed from mafia money, the president at first responded “what does that have to do with me,” and then said: “If these people don’t exist, football won’t exist either.”

The political opposition criticized the president’s statements, with former Interior Minister Vladimír Palko saying: “In every state it happens that the courts don’t manage to put every mafia member in jail. That doesn’t mean that society should pretend to be blind to their existence and suggest that everything is just as it should be. We should be trying to distance ourselves from such people.”

The journalist who performed the interview, Marek Vagovič, confirmed that after the interview the president’s press team had tried to have the mafia comments stricken from the transcript.

“I’m not going to comment on [the work of] amateur journalists,” said the president’s spokesman, Marek Trubáč.

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