Petr Bříza, right, is one of five candidates standing to become IIHF President ©Getty Images

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova and former winner of football’s Ballon d’Or Pavel Nedvěd are among the notable figures in Czech sport to back Petr Bříza’s bid to become International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President.

Bříza, who played professionally for 23 years including at three Winter Olympic Games and has served the Czech Ice Hockey Association (CIHA) since 2008, is one of five candidates standing to succeed René Fasel, who has served as IIHF President since 1994.

His campaign includes five key pillars - ensuring a strong IIHF to ensure ice hockey’s stability, making the sport’s product more appealing, making use of the IIHF membership’s knowledge and professionalism, working with regions to promote global development and bringing fresh projects and formats.

In an interview with insidethegames earlier this month, Bříza emphasised the importance of the word ‘we’ to his campaign, and described the campaign as "an unbelievable opportunity to start a very intensive discussion."

Navratilova was born in Prague but represented the United States as she won 18 women’s tennis Grand Slams from 1978 to 1990, and pledged her support for Bříza’s bid.

"I believe he can be a great IIHF President and help the development of hockey and women's hockey in particular, significantly," Navratilova said.

The 2003 Ballon d’Or winner and former Juventus footballer Nedvěd added: "Successful leadership of an international sports organisation places great demands on you.

Martina Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam titles, and is among the sporting legends to back Petr Bříza’s bid ©Getty Images
Martina Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam titles, and is among the sporting legends to back Petr Bříza’s bid ©Getty Images

"I know this from my own experience.

"Petr has proven these skills for many years and I believe he will be a great IIHF President."

Former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech, who made his competitive ice hockey debut in 2019, is supporting Bříza, while Jaromír Jágr - the owner of Czech ice hockey club HC Kladno - and Czech Olympic Committee (COC) President and chair of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) marketing commission Jiří Kejval have also endorsed him.

"He is an excellent leader in the fields of sports management and organisation, and he has demonstrated this not just with respect to ice hockey," Kejval said.

"We worked together when setting up the Czech Olympic Festivals, a project that has since been adopted by the IOC as an effective marketing activity linked to the Olympic Games.

"I have always been impressed by his skill, creativity, determination, and ability to develop new ideas, and I have every confidence he would be an outstanding IIHF President."

The IIHF’s next President will be decided at the Semi-Annual Congress in Saint-Petersburg on Saturday (September 25), with Germany’s Franz Reindl, Denmark’s Henrik Bach Nielsen, Belarus’ Sergej Gontcharov and France’s Luc Tardif also in contention.

All five candidates are currently members of the IIHF Council.