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7 July, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 7 July, 2018 12:25:14 AM
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Croatia and football: A key role in a nation’s pride

World Cup in Russia revived the passion for the team
AFP

AFP, ZAGREB: Croatia's achievement in reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup has revived national pride in the team which for more than a quarter of century has played a crucial role in the young nation's identity.

Miroslav Ciro Blazevic, who was coach when Croatia played its first World Cup as an independent nation in 1998, told AFP Croats had "found themselves" in football.

Ahead of the quarter-final against Russia, we trace the role football has played in the making of Croatia:

The death of Yugoslavia's leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980 marked the start of the communist federation's decay and the rise of often politicised 'ultra' supporters.

The stadiums were “becoming places to express opposition to the regime,” said Loic Tregoures, the French author of a political thesis on the subject of football and national identity in the former Yugoslavia.

The phenomenon was especially prevalent in Croatia where people came to football matches to express a "Croat nationalism that was repressed" elsewhere, Tregoures told AFP.

The rivalry between the republic's two main clubs -- Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb -- has remained but they "stand together " against Serbian teams, he said.

The match between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade, one of the main Yugoslav league derbies for decades, on May 13, 1990 was marred by violence which heralded Yugoslavia's break-up. Dinamo's captain, the then 21-year Zvonimir Boban, watched as a home fan was brutally beaten by police.

For Croatians, the scene was highly symbolic, but there were other incidents in the year before Croatia's 1991-1995 independence war with rebel Serbs backed by Belgrade.

Just one week after that game, Croatia's pro-independence parties won the first multi-party elections in Yugoslavia, fuelling ethnic tensions between Zagreb and Belgrade, which was opposed to the country's break-up.

The captain of the Yugoslavia team, Faruk Hadzibegic, strongly supported keeping Yugoslavia intact. But on June 3, during a pre-1990 World Cup friendly against the Netherlands, he realised that the whistling at the Maksimir stadium in Zagreb was actually aimed at his team.

The World Cup in Russia has revived the passion for the team.

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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