Group AMonday, June 16, 2014
Croatia nude photo controversy
Players impose press boycott over private pictures
Two goals in four dramatic second-half minutes set lowly Costa Rica on its way to a deserved 3-1 victory over Uruguay yesterday in the biggest upset of the World Cup so far.
MANAUS, Brazil — Croatia’s players are refusing to talk to World Cup reporters after photos were published of them bathing nude in the team’s swimming pool, coach Niko Kovac said yesterday.
Two photographers hid in the nearby bushes and took the pictures which were published by online media.
“I can’t force them to be at your disposal after what you have done to them and their families,” an angry Kovac told reporters in the team’s Praia do Forte training base.
“How would you feel if someone took naked pictures of you? They are adamant that they won’t speak to you lot anymore and I don’t know whether the silence will end tomorrow or last until the end of our World Cup campaign.”
“I respect my players’ opinion and I also know that you have done a very professional job so far but you blew it with this one. The whole world has seen the photos.”
Southampton centre-back Dejan Lovren and former Manchester City defender Vedran Corluka, now with Lokomotiv Moscow, featured prominently in the photographs.
“It’s easy for me to talk but I’m not part of this story. I respect their opinion. What can I do? I cannot pull them by the ears and say, ‘let’s go talk to media,’” said Kovac.
Croatia play Cameroon in the hot and humid Amazon city of Manaus on Wednesday in what is a must-win game for both sides after the Croatians lost their opening Group A match to hosts Brazil 3-1 while the West Africans were beaten 1-0 by Mexico.
Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o missed training for a second successive day yesterday with the striker still struggling with a knee injury.
“It is a situation we have to monitor as it is an injury he picked up from the end of the season with Chelsea,” coach Volker Finke told a press conference at the team base in Vitoria.
The potential absence for Wednesday’s match in Manaus would be a blow to Cameroon, which delivered a tepid performance in its first outing on Friday against Mexico in Natal.
Finke said it was imperative Cameroon, who last won at the World Cup finals against Saudi Arabia in 2002, emerged victorious over a Croatia team beaten 3-1 by Brazil in the tournament opener on Thursday.
“They are in the same situation as us, they lost their opener. If you have zero points after the first game, you do not talk too much, you just have to win at all costs.”
“Croatia is a team that has good players. There are players who play at clubs in Spain, at Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, in the Bundesliga... it is clear that this is a good team,” the coach added.