In an incident with echoes of Roy Keane’s departure from the Ireland camp, Slovenia have sent home their captain and star player Zlatko Zahovic after the Benfica player was accused of “behaving rudely” and “betraying the players’ trust”.
Zahovic was involved in a slanging match with boss Zrecko Katanec after the Slovenia coach susbtituted his playmaker during the opening game defeat to Spain.
The Slovenian football federation released a lrngthy statement citing the reasons for his dismissal.
“The leadership of the Slovenian football federation has decided to dismiss player Zlatko Zahovic from the national team. The decision has been reached because of the following reasons: during and after the Spain-Slovenia match he rudely insulted the head coach Srecko Katanec; before leaving Gwangju, he behaved rudely towards the SFF president; in spite of a different agreement, he continued with improper behaviour after returning to the hotel; he has not respected the agreement that the incident is concluded and is not to be commented in public anymore – in spite of numerous violations of the agreement which was supposed to assure the normal conditions for the next matches, the leadership first decided to keep him in the squad, aiming for the best result of the team; by stating the all players are on his side, he has abused their trust, since the statement is not correct; he repeated the incorrect statements in a public statement after the practice on June 5, where he represented himself as a victim although he is the only one to blame for the current situation; he described the incident incorrectly, insulted the head coach and abused the trust of the players again by stating that they agree with him, since they have in reality condemned his behaviour but agreed that he should stay with the team.
“The conditions have not changed and calmed despite the decision that Zahovic stayed in the squad. Zahovic continued with behaviour which is harmful for the atmosphere in the team. This is why the present decision has been made in agreement with the head coach Katanec.
“The head coach has the full support of the leadership of the SFF delegation, coaching staff and the players, and the decision has been made with the aim of calming the atmosphere in the squad and putting all the energy to the following World Cup matches.”