Chaos at Dinamo: Players Refuse Salary Cut, Coach Bjelica’s Staff Sacked

Daniela Rogulj

March 28, 2020 – Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dinamo Zagreb decided to cut salaries by 30 percent to players, staff and members of the working community over the next six months. Everyone in the club agreed to the pay cut except the first team, coach Nenad Bjelica and his staff.

T.portal reports that on Wednesday, the Croatian football champion decided to cut salaries for all 450 Dinamo-based employees, to which all but the players and first-team professional staff agreed. On Thursday, the Dinamo leaders brutally retaliated by terminating the contracts of Bjelica’s closest associates – his staff. Namely, assistant coaches Rene Poms and Nino Bule, goalie coach Silvije Cavlina, conditioning coaches Martin Mayer and Karlo Reinholz and analyst Jasmin Osmanovic have been sacked.

The only one pardoned was head coach Nenad Bjelica.

On Friday, Dinamo handed over two fully equipped ambulances to the health system of Croatia, worth half a million kuna, with two donations of 250,000 kuna each for the reconstruction of the Zagreb Pediatric Disease Clinic and the Petrova Clinic for Women and Diseases, which were both damaged in the devastating earthquake on Sunday. 

After the ceremony at Maksimir Stadium, Kresimir Antolic presented the position of the GNK Dinamo Management on media reports about the split between the club management and the locker room after the decision to reduce salaries.

‘We have said everything about the measures we have taken in our statement. Anyone who is reasonable, realistic, normal will recognize our intentions and why we have now introduced rationalization and austerity measures. Not because we are in a panic, but because we are thinking about what will be in three, six or nine months,” Antolic said, adding that “everyone must be responsible for what they say” and not speak of “manipulations and untruths”.

“Let us deal with our players and let them understand through conversation that this is aimed at safeguarding their contracts and securing their livelihoods, as 90 percent of other people who receive a salary from Dinamo each month accept. In a situation where people have no place to live, when apartments and houses are destroyed, when people die in hospitals, the topic now is the relationship between Dinamo’s players and Dinamo. These are our players. These are no other players. Let’s not make hysteria out of it. We will sit down with them and they will fully understand what this is about, that it is not about any impact on them,” Antolic revealed to the media about the club’s next move.

In a statement issued Thursday, in response to the reaction of the players, the GNK Dinamo management stated that “it had brought in measures to rationalize the remuneration of all employees for the next six months to maintain the overall stability of the club” and that they “informed every club employee in a timely manner, in accordance with the coronavirus pandemic restriction,” and that the first to know was head coach Nenad Bjelica and captain Arjan Ademi with several other first-team players.

Dinamo said in a statement that the coach and the players on several occasions decisively rejected the measures imposed and that the club “received such refusal as soon as possible and in writing”. The same statement read that all other employees agreed to the measures introduced and that the allegations of expeditiousness, one-sidedness and lack of analysis and communication were simply incorrect.

T.portal also reported that Dinamo did not sack coach Nenad Bjelica because they could lose millions, as Dinamo would have to pay his contract until the end, which is the summer of 2021, with all bonuses and arrears.

Bjelica currently has a contract of around 1.2 million euro a year, and until the end of the contract, he is owed over one and a half million euro. Add to that the agreed bonuses for their Champions League success this season and likely another Croatian championship, the sum could easily exceed two million euro. 

Dinamo fan group Bad Blue Boys released a statement on Friday.

Some excerpts read:

“The despotic, absolutist principle of governing our club has again shown its true face.

Amid the biggest crisis since the war in which most people in the country have been struggling to survive, using the lowest passions, the club has brought its players and coaches to the pillar of shame by sticking the label of greedy millionaires on them and leaving them at the mercy of the masses and the media, thirsty for blood and sensations. And many fans, nevertheless people, sometimes naive and confronted with the great problems of life and the threatening black clouds, reflexively perceived this situation as black and white.

For the past three days, the public has separated players and first-team coaches into simple factors by which the so-called “management” clasped their hands and closed their mouths to defend themselves and tell their side of the story in a situation that is all but black and white. They did not run the risk of rebelling coaches and players, nor did they direct this play for less money. Nor is it by chance that the entire operation was performed at this exact time.

It is a completely surreal fact that the one behind everything has been abolished by the body of the club, while at the same time, humiliating the coach and players whose character they had swore on yesterday. 

All this is just a reflection of the general schizophrenia the club is in, complete opacity and throwing dust in the eyes of fans and anyone who loves Dinamo.

The players now have the opportunity to show who they are; do they feel for this club, the fans, for the people of this city and this country, which the higher forces again threw to their knees.”

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