Josip Simunic given ten-match ban

FIFA has handed Croatia international defender, Josip Simunic, a ten-match ban for his behaviour after the World Cup play-off match between against Iceland on 19 November 2013.

Croatia qualified for the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Iceland. Video footage showed Simunic taking a microphone to the field after the match and shouting to the fans: “For the homeland!” The fans respond: “Ready!” That was the war call used by Ustashas, the Croatian pro-Nazi regime that ruled the state during the second world war.

FIFA’s disciplinary committee concluded that that Simunic’s behaviour was discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons concerning, inter alia, race, religion or origin, in a clear breach of article 58 par. 1a) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code.

The ban means that Simunic misses next year’d World Cup and at the age of 35, could effectively mark the end of his international career.

The committee also decreed that Simunic will be banned from entering the stadiums with regard to the ten matches for which he is suspended.

The player was also fined CHF 30,000.

More World Cup stadium woes for Brazil

A Brazilian court has ordered a partial stop to construction on the Arena Amazonia in the city of Manaus after the death of a worker, who fell off the stadium’s roof raised safety concerns ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

Public prosecutors asked for work “in all areas involving altitude” to be stopped pending investigations to guarantee workers’ safety. The worker, Marcleudo de Melo Ferreira, 22, died in a Manaus hospital on Saturday.

“Around noon on Sunday we were notified of the labour court’s order for a partial stoppage of work,” the coordinator for UGP Copa, the co-ordination organisation for all World Cup projects in Manaus, said in a statement.

“The decision should be applied to activities in high areas, notably the services of mounting the roof and facade of the Arena Amazonia.”

Local construction union leader Cicero Custodio slammed conditions at Manaus and warned his members were ready to strike if conditions did not improve.

“Workers at the Amazonia Arena are being ill-treated,” said Custodio. “We are being ignored by the authorities. I have been talking about conditions at the arena and the risks of night work for some time. Ideally, there would be a general strike to show how things really are.”

Ferreira was the fifth construction worker to die in stadiums being built to host the World Cup in 12 cities. Later on Saturday, a construction worker in a nearby convention centre that will host meetings during the World Cup, Jose Antonio da Silva Nascimento, was found dead. Family members blamed an intense work schedule for triggering a heart-attack.

Manaus is scheduled to host four World Cup games in June, including high-profile encounters involving teams from England, Italy, the United States and Portugal. The stadium is supposed to be ready by January 15.

Sepp Blatter tries to ban book of cartoons

FIFA president Sepp Blatter is going to court in his native Switzerland to ban the publication of a book of cartoons.

The book of satirical drawings is by Danish cartoonist (and former footballer) Olé Andersen, and it features a Blatter lookalike.

According to his lawyers, Blatter “has a good reputation and if the cartoons were published he would never be able to repair the damage.”

Clearly, his lawyers, unlike their aggrieved client, do have a sense of humour.

However the 77-year-old’s attempt to ban the book, entitled ‘The Platter Cartoons‘ has, somewhat inevitably,  served to draw more attention to it, with his legal campaign to ban it drawing widespread derision.

The court case was first revealed by Andrew Jennings on his Transparency in Sport blog. He writes:

“Many months ago I had the privilege of seeing some of the cartoons and I understand why Blatter hates them: their sin is not to take the emperor of world football as seriously as he takes himself.”

This is not the first time Blatter has gone to court to try and prevent the publishing of a book, Jennings’ own 2006 book ‘Foul! The secret world of Fifa: bribes, vote rigging and ticket scandals‘ was itself once subject to an injunction.

However the action was withdrawn within 24 hours after its publisher, HarperCollins, announced that it would challenge the court’s ruling.

Cristiano Ronaldo opens his own personal museum

It’s nearing Christmas time and for many, thoughts are turning to what to buy for loved ones. But what do you buy for the man who has already got everything? Well, in Cristiano Ronaldo’s case, you buy yourself a museum, and you dedicate it to yourself.

The Real Madrid player opened a museum in his honour in his birthplace of Madeira on Sunday, which he said had extra space for many other trophies to come.

The museum, which contains his 2008 Ballon d’Or and 125 other individual and team awards dating back to his Madeira childhood, Ronaldo said the CR7 museum was a gift to his fans.

“Of course it’s a special day, it’s the opening of my museum and I am proud,” the Portugal forward said. “I have room for more trophies. I don’t really want to mention specific ones. All I want is to win more awards and, if the Ballon d’Or comes, there is extra room here.”

Ronaldo, along with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Bayern Munich’s Franck Ribéry are the three finalists for the 2013 Ballon d’Or award.

Ronaldo said he is not desperate to win the most prestigious individual award in the sport.”I hope that happens but I am not obsessed about it,” he said. The Ballon d’Or results will be announced on 13 January.

The museum itself is a humble venture, occupying the ground floor of a discreet five-storey building.

The first object on display, probably the smallest, dates back to when Ronaldo was eight and was the leading scorer in a tournament with his first club Andorinha.

Along with many personal awards including two Golden Shoes for being Europe’s leading marksman and the 2008 Ballon d’Or, stands a lifesize wax figure of Ronaldo in a Portugal shirt.

“Does the statue look the same or what?” he asked. “No, I think it looks more handsome [than me],” Ronaldo joked.

No sex please we’re Bosnian

Bosnia and Herzegovina players will be barred from indulging in sex at next year’s World Cup, with wives and girlfriends not welcome around the players.

Coach Safet Susic, who played in two World Cups, believes the distraction of the WAGS could prove detrimental to the players efforts.

Bosnia and Herzegovina qualified for their first World Cup as an independent nation and are grouped up with Iran, Argentina and Nigeria.

“We want to reach 10 points physically before our game against Argentina which is the only way to win”, Susic told Avaz.

“There is a lot of philosophy in it. As a player, I also participated in two World Cups, and of course we were quarantined, that is women, friends and family were not with us.”

After their Group F opener against two-time World champions Argentina, Bosnia will tackle Nigeria in Cuiabá  on the 21st of June before squaring up against Iran in Salvador four days later.

Quote of the Day

“We’re lucky to have him and we need to enjoy him while he’s here because if he keeps performances up like this, I hate to say it, but the big guns are going to be sniffing which is what we don’t want.”

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard is full of praise for in-form team-mate Luis Suarez. The implication that Liverpool are no longer a big club, is unlikely to endear him to the club’s supporters.

Goal of the Day

PEC Zwolle defender Joost Broerse smashed in a stunning free-kick to bring his side level against Heerenveen.