Czech police detain Belarus football chief - media report

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Czech police have detained Belarus Football Federation chief Vladimir Bazanov and his wife on suspicion they breached COVID-19 pandemic rules by not having applied for an exemption to travel restrictions, local media reported on Tuesday.

Bazanov, an ally of Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, had been due to attend a women's World Cup qualifier between the Czech Republic and Belarus, Denik N newspaper reported.

The Belarusian Football Federation declined to comment.

The game was eventually postponed due to COVID-19 cases identified among the visiting team.

The Czech police said they could not confirm that Bazanov and his wife had been detained, saying only: "Two foreign nationals were caught who are suspected of having entered the Czech Republic and stayed here in a breach of current safety measures of the Health Ministry."

A spokesman for the Czech Football Association said that both its Belarusian counterpart and Europe's top football body, UEFA, had turned to the Czech association for help.

Michal Jurman said Belarus FA and UEFA had told the Czech FA: "Bazanov arrived in the country in his capacity of a sport association chairman, not a political official."

Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Eva Davidova said the ministry could not confirm Bazanov was in the country, or whether he had applied for a Czech visa.

(Reporting by Robert Muller in Prague, Pavel Polityuk in Kiev; Editing by Alison Williams)

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