Friday Kickoff: Croatia hits out at referee; Chicharito unhappy with role; and more

Friday Kickoff: Croatia hits out at referee; Chicharito unhappy with role; and more

World Cup 2014

Friday Kickoff: Croatia hits out at referee; Chicharito unhappy with role; and more

Croatian players protest to the referee.

Photo by ISIPhotos.com

By RYAN TOLMICH

If you ask the Croatian national team players, they think that the World Cup should just be handed to Brazil already.

Following Thursday’s World Cup opener, which saw Brazil defeat Croatia 3-1 in Sao Paulo, Croatian players and head coach Niko Kovac hit out at referee Yuichi Nishimura for his controversial decisions. Nishimura gave Neymar a yellow card for an elbow that some thought could have been a red, disallowed a Croatia goal, and awarded Brazil a very soft penalty kick.

According to Croatia and former Tottenham and Manchester City defender Vedran Corluka, Nishimura refused to explain his decisions in English to the players, an astonishing claim.

“I think if this continues then no one should play against Brazil,” Corluka said after the game. “We should just give them the World Cup and everyone can go home. I think it is embarrassing.

“I have never seen a referee in a World Cup that doesn’t speak English. It is quite amazing. He was trying to speak to the players in Japanese. It is ridiculous. He was speaking Japanese but no one could understand him because we don’t have Japanese players.”

Here are more news and notes to kickoff your Friday morning:

CHICHARITO UNHAPPY IN SUBSTITUTE ROLE

Throughout the past few seasons, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has served a role as a game-changing substitute on the club level with Manchester United.

However, the Mexican national team has long been Hernandez’s place to shine, with a starting role and superstar status being all but guaranteed during his time with El Tri. That is, until now.

The 26-year-old forward has been relegated to the bench by manager Miguel Herrera in favor of Giovani Dos Santos, which has caused Hernandez to lash out at those who can’t see past his reputation as a “super-sub.”

“I’ve never seen myself as a sub and I don’t like being one,” Hernandez said. “And, believe me, I am tired of a lot of people seeing me that way, as a super sub. I’m a player that has made a difference as a starter.”

Despite his frustration with his current role, Hernandez has insisted that his teammates still have his full support ahead of their clash with Cameroon Friday. However, if given the chance, he also looks forward to proving he is worthy of taking his place in the starting XI.

“If they give me 15 or 20 minutes,” Hernandez said, “I want to make it clear that my desire is to play.

“I’m not going to get down,” he added. “There are dreams I want to achieve and I’m always going to fight for them.”

DOCTOR BLAMES BAYERN FOR RIBERY INJURY

The 2014 World Cup has become the World Cup of injuries, as a slew of the game’s top stars have been forced to withdraw from the tournament. While many of these injuries were accidents, the case of Franck Ribery is one that was entirely preventable, according to French doctors.

The 31-year-old winger was left off the French squad due to a back injury originally suffered in April while with Bayern Munich. However, the club opted to play Ribery just three weeks later and, according to French doctor Franck Le Gall, the club “didn’t manage to solve the problem” of Ribery’s ailments.

“He was out for more or less three weeks and played a match which he probably shouldn’t have played because he played through pain,” Le Gall said.

Le Gall went on to say that Ribery “was just as much bothered” by the injury when he entered France camp as when he originally suffered it. While the national team considered treating Ribery’s ailments with injections, which Le Gall said was standard practice at Bayern, doctors opted to rule Ribery out, as the player has developed a phobia of injections.

“Franck belongs to a club where for all pathological treatments — twisted ankles, bruising, muscle pains, contractions, tears — there are injections,” Le Gall said. “There are 10 per pathology (injury), or 20, 25, 40 per year, or more. So there comes a time when, well … [Ribery] has had enough of injections. If for a moment we thought it could be solved that way, we didn’t do it, because he’s scared of injections.”

MARTINEZ INKS NEW DEAL WITH EVERTON

Despite being a part of ESPN’s coverage of the World Cup, Roberto Martinez’s biggest success Friday didn’t come from the network’s shiny new World Cup studio.

The 40-year-old manager extended his stay with Everton by signing a new contract that will see the Spaniard remain with the club until 2019. Martinez guided Everton to a fifth-place finish this past season and ensured the club would be a part of European competition for the first time since 2009-2010.

“I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to make a further commitment to Everton,” Martinez said on the club’s official website. “I loved my first season at the Club. I could not be more proud of the way Everton performed throughout the entire season and the memories we were able to make together.

“I am really excited about next season,” added Martinez. “I knew from the moment I arrived at Everton that this was a special place and I’d like to thank everyone associated with the Club, the board, all the staff, the players and our brilliant supporters for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to build on the traditions and success of this great Club.”

QUICK KICKS

Netherlands head coach Louis Van Gaal has decided to start Jonathan De Guzman for Holland’s opener ahead of Jordy Clasie. (REPORT)

Uruguay’s Diego Forlan has been declared fit to play after suffering from a stomach bug. (REPORT)

Argentine midfielder Enzo Perez is set to make a 25 million euro ($34 million) transfer from Benfica to Valencia this summer. (REPORT)

Manchester City’s Alexander Kolarov has signed an extension with the club that will see the player remain with the team until 2018. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Shocked by the Croatian player’s claims? Do you see Chicharito having a negative effect in the locker room? Do you believe Bayern is at fault for Ribery’s injury?

Share your thoughts below.

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