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By ESPN Staff

Prague court upholds verdict against ref

PRAGUE, Jan 5 (Reuters) - Czech soccer referee Vladimir Pastyrik has lost an appeal against a bribery conviction with a court upholding an eight-month suspended prison sentence and a 30,000 Czech crown ($1,254) fine.

The former policeman, who was convicted in September, has also been banned from refereeing for three years, although he told the Sport daily newspaper he was innocent of the charges.

'I still feel not guilty,' the daily quoted Pastyrik as saying.

The scandal involved more than two dozen referees and club officials who have also been charged for alleged bribery in the 2003-04 season.

Pastyrik was found guilty of agreeing to take a 30,000 crown bribe in February 2004 to influence the outcome of a game between first division teams Viktoria Zizkov and Brno.

At the time Zizkov were facing relegation and evidence presented during the trial included a phone call between Pastyrik and Zizkov sports director Ivan Hornik two days before the match.

Zizkov won the match 2-0, but were relegated that season anyway.

In one of the biggest scandals to hit Czech sport, five teams had points deducted at the end of the season for their involvement in the plot with FC Synot, Liberec, Opava and Vitkovice all implicated along with Viktoria Zizkov.