PRAGUE – Former ice hockey referee and football official Rudolf Bata passed away on Thursday morning after long illness at the age of 89.
Bata was born in the Czech city of Zlin in 1927. He worked as a engineer and was playing hockey as a junior but reached the highest level in the sport as a referee. He officiated 895 ice hockey games for 17 years until stopping in 1977. He was a referee at two Olympic Winter Games (1972, 1976), at six IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships (1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973, 1975) and at the 1972 Summit Series. The latter games in Canada and in Moscow he would later call the highlight of his career as an official as it was the first time Canadian NHL players and players from the Soviet Union faced off against each other.
When he was 50 he finished his career on the ice and switched to football. He worked as General Secretary of the Czechoslovak and later Czech football federation from 1978 to 1996 and was a member of the UEFA Disciplinary Board. Afterwards he worked for the Sparta Prague football club until retiring from his post in May this year.
For his work in the two sports he became a member of the Czech Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and of the Czech Football Hall of Fame in 2014.