Birmingham chairman David Gold has dismissed a suggestion that Croatia playmaker Luka Modric may have been deliberately injured by Lee Bowyer as "absolutely ridiculous".
The president of the Croatian federation claims the injury suffered by his country's star player Modric has left him wondering whether Croatia's top stars are being deliberately targeted for rough treatment in the Premier League.
Vlatko Markovic spoke out after Modric suffered a broken leg playing for Tottenham against Birmingham at the weekend which will sideline him for around two months, with Croatia set to face England in a crucial World Cup qualifier at Wembley on September 9.
It follows on from an even more severe injury suffered by Arsenal striker Eduardo - also against Birmingham - in February 2008 which meant he was unavailable when the sides met in the reverse fixture in Zagreb last September.
Markovic said: "First Eduardo, now Luka Modric. This is horrible. I can only ask myself if it was really an accident.
"I'm close to thinking it was done to us deliberately before the England match. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw what happened to Luka. He is irreplaceable."
But City chairman Gold told Five Live: "It's quite unbelievable. I had to check it wasn't April 1, I thought it was a joke.
"To suggest a conspiracy is nonsense. To suggest it was a deliberate act by English players to weaken the Croatia squad is absolutely ridiculous.
"Maybe the problem is the statement by the Croatian official has completely been lost in translation?"