Josip Simunic

Alleged Pro-Nazi chants get Croatian defender banned for World Cup


Josip Simunic’s alleged pro-Nazi chants have cost him big time, as FIFA laid a 10-game ban on the Croatia defender that will cost him the 2014 World Cup.

After Croatia had defeated Iceland 2-0 to seal their fate as a member of the 2014 World Cup, Simunic grabbed a microphone and led the home crowd in a chant.

He said loudly “za dom” — translated from Croatian as “for the homeland” — four times, gaining an immediate response from fans, who chanted “spremni”, meaning “ready”.

The chant earned him a fine of approximately $4400 in Zagreb, but that came before FIFA began its investigation. Croatia was controlled by the pro-Nazi Utashas regime during the second World War and the “Za dom” chants are considered incendiary. Furthermore, FIFA had previously warned and fined Croatia for its fans’ racist behavior.

The gesture was condemned by Croatia football federation chief Davor Suker as inappropriate last month. FIFA suspended Simunic, fined him 20,000 pounds and released the following statement to the BBC this afternoon:

“The salute was discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons.”

The Dinamo Zagreb captain, Simunic had denied any political nature in the chants.

“The thought that anyone could associate me with any form of hatred or violence terrifies me,” he said in a statement on Dinamo’s official website.

“If anyone understood my cries differently, or negatively, I hereby want to deny they contained any political context. They were guided exclusively by my love for my people and homeland, not hatred and destruction.”

Jurgen Klopp announced as new Liverpool manager

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool FC
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Enough with the speculation and reports already, because it’s finally officially official: Jurgen Klopp has been appointed the newest manager of Liverpool Football Club, the Merseyside club announced on Thursday.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Klopp will be unveiled to the world at an introductory press conference at Anfield on Friday.

According to early reports, Klopp’s three-year contract could pay him as much as $10 million per season.

[ QUOTE KING: Top 10 “Klopp-isms” from his time at Dortmund ]

The 48-year-old German has been out of work since stepping down at Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund following a seventh-place finish to the 2014-15 season. Klopp’s seven seasons in charge of Dortmund weren’t without success and silverware, though, as he led Der BVB to back-to-back league titles in 2011 and 2012, a German Cup triumph in 2012 and a UEFA Champions League final appearance in 2013.

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright will be at Anfield on Friday for Klopp’s unveiling, so be sure to follow JPW on Twitter and check back to PST for wall-to-wall coverage of Klopp’s first press conference as Liverpool manager.

Mourinho “working like never before” to turn Chelsea around

Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Jose Mourinho got the dreaded much-needed vote of confidence from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich last weekend, seemingly giving the Portuguese manager a temporary stay of execution despite the Blues’ worst start to a season in 37 years.

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Speaking this week, Mourinho has revealed that while he’s thankful to have been kept on at the club for which he regularly professes his love, he still thinks it was no-brainer for Abramovich. In other words, Mourinho’s not backing down from his incredible, seven-minute rant to one question following Saturday’s defeat to Southampton.

Mourinho, on what he’s doing to turn Chelsea around — quotes from the Guardian:

“It shows the confidence of Abramovich in the manager who has won three Premier League titles with this club. I thank him and I keep working.

“What’s going on? I do not know. The results with Chelsea at the moment have been really bad. I cannot hide that reality, and I don’t want to. And I struggle to find an explanation. But I assure you: I’m working like never before and we will come out of this. And there is also the Champions League that we will not neglect, for certain.”

What did you expect from Mourinho? Well, you know, I should probably be fired, but thanks to Mr. Abramovich for not realizing this and keeping me employed? It’s simultaneously interesting and the least surprising thing ever, though, that Mourinho claims to not know what’s wrong with Chelsea at the moment. Of course he has a theory (or five), and of course he’s “working like never before” to correct it.

[ MORE: Ozil, Coquelin say Arsenal can win the title this season ]

The most fascinating thing about Chelsea’s sluggish start to the season is to see, hear and read Mourinho speaking from a position of powerlessness. Always the clever one, the one dictating where the discussion goes, the one in charge of every press interaction, Saturday’s rant felt like watching a desperate Mourinho grasping for anything by which to pull himself back up.