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Everton on the rise once again

Everton
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Mandzukic denies celebration was political

Mario Mandzukic has denied claims that the salute used in his goal celebration against Nurnberg at the weekend was to Croatian generals Ante Gotovina and Mladen Markac.

Bayern Munich forward Mandzukic said he was "stunned" by the claims and insisted his celebration had nothing to do with politics.

On Friday, a war crimes court in The Hague overturned the convictions of the two Croatian generals, who had been charged with atrocities against Serbs during the 1990s.

Croatia international Mandzukic celebrated his strike with his arm raised to his forehead, resembling a military salute.

After the match, there was speculation in both the Croatian and Swiss media that the celebration was a salute to the two generals.

But Mandzukic, in a statement released via the club, said: "I am stunned by what has been made out of that celebration.

"It had nothing to do with politics. I only ran towards the terraces to greet our fans."

Kosovo-Albanian-born Switzerland international Xerdan Shaqiri, who celebrated alongside Manduzikc, also said the gesture had not been meant to have any political significance.

"I don't know about a general from Croatia," he said. "I saw Mario and celebrated with him."

DFB statues prohibit political statements on the pitch, but Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that it was unclear whether the association would open an investigation into the celebration.

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