Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Croatia and Slovenia Football Legends to Play Humanitarian Match in Petrinja

February 23, 2021 - Croatia and Slovenia football legends will play a humanitarian match in Petrinja next month, during which UEFA will hand over a donation to the Croatian Red Cross to help the earthquake-damaged areas. 

Immediately after the earthquake rocked the Petrinja area on December 29, 2020, UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin spoke with HNS President and UEFA Executive Board member Davor Šuker about ways to help the earthquake-affected areas, reports HNS.

At their initiative, a humanitarian match between Croatia and Slovenia football legends will be played in Petrinja on March 13, during which the umbrella European football federation will hand over a donation to the Croatian Red Cross to help areas affected by the devastating earthquake.

"Our thoughts are with the people of Croatia in these difficult times. We hope that the help of the football family will help them overcome the challenges caused by this devastating earthquake and that it will contribute to the recovery of the Petrinja region," said UEFA President Alexander Ceferin.

On the same occasion, the Croatian Football Federation will hand over a donation to the Sisak-Moslavina County Football Federation, intended to reconstruct the football infrastructure in the earthquake-affected areas.

The co-organizer of the humanitarian match will be the Slovenian Football Federation (NZS), led by President Radenko Mijatović, who will also join the action with a donation.

"We are once again witnessing great solidarity and friendship within the European football family. I believe that UEFA's help will reach the right addresses through the Red Cross and that our help to the county federation will facilitate the return of football in the county.

I am convinced that football is one of the best ways to bring smiles back to people's faces, especially children, so let this game be a sign of a return to normal life," said HNS President Davor Šuker.

The friendly match between Croatia and Slovenia football legends will be played on March 13, starting at 13:00 at the Mladost Stadium in Petrinja.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

HNS Sacks Entire Croatian Football Referees' Committee?

February 10, 2021 - For the second time in four years, Damir Mišković has allegedly managed to overthrow the Croatian Football Referees' Committee. 

The Referees' Committee of the Croatian Football Federation is being abolished, and a new one will be formed, which is the epilogue of yesterday's HNS meeting, according to numerous Croatian media, including Sportske Novosti, Index.hr and HRT

The Referees' Committee, consisting of Ante Kulušić (president), Domagoj Vučkov (member and head of VAR education), Draženko Kovačić, Ante Vučemilović-Šimunović Jr., Vlado Svilokos and Igor Pristovnik thus ceases to exist, and a new Committee will be formed later.

Namely, five regional centers, Split, Rijeka, Varazdin, Zagreb, and Osijek will nominate candidates for the new Committee, and the Executive Board will appoint the new Committee probably in March. That is the plan at the moment.

The meeting was convened by the executive director of the HNS, Marijan Kustić, and the decision to dissolve the Committee was accepted by all present, except Ante Vučemilović-Šimunović, the first vice president of HNS, who demonstratively left the meeting, Sportske Novosti writes. The executive board members must also state officially by 3 pm today whether they are in favor of dissolving the Committee, but it seems that this is just a formality.

"There's not much to say that you don't already know. The executive board has to confirm the decision by 3 pm, but there won't be any problems from that side. It's just proof that a lot is changing in the Federation and that we really want to have healthy football. This is just the beginning of the necessary changes," a source from HNS told Index.

Ivan Novak will continue to delegate referees for First League matches, and from now on he will also appoint VAR referees, which was done by Ante Kulušić as the head of the Committee. It will be up to Kulušić to send controllers to the matches until further notice.

Thus, for the second time in four years, the President of Rijeka, Damir Mišković, managed to overthrow the Referees' Committee. After the Rijeka-Šibenik match at Rujevica, which ended in a 2:2 draw thanks to a VAR debacle in the final minutes, Mišković called out the refereeing organization, attacking the VAR referee Goran Gabril from Split. The president of Rijeka announced changes, and it seems that he succeeded.

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.  

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Hajduk and HNS Discuss Relations Moving Forward, Poljud as Primary Croatia Stadium

November 25, 2020 - The presidents of Hajduk and HNS met on Tuesday in Zagreb to discuss several topics and open issues that directly and indirectly concern the Split club and Croatian Football Federation.

The President of the Management Board of HNK Hajduk, Lukša Jakobušić, met with the President of HNS Davor Šuker at the headquarters of the Federation in Zagreb. The meeting lasted an hour and 20 minutes, and the two discussed a number of topics and open issues that directly and indirectly concern Hajduk and HNS.

"This meeting is a logical sequence of what I announced in my inaugural speech. I want to talk about everything and for a start, I choose the most difficult topics which, understandably, are of most interest to Hajduk, but also to the wider football public. I think that the context and issues of the relationship between Hajduk and the Croatian Football Federation are well known to everyone. The president of HNS is the one who represents the Federation and who has the power to resolve the open issues and problems we discussed today. I met him and repeated things that bother not only Hajduk, but the entire football public because I have the impression that some attempts at positive changes on our part were rejected only because of the way they were presented," said Jakobušić after the meeting.

One of the topics discussed was hosting Croatia national team matches at Poljud.

"If Poljud will be the primary home of the Croatia national football team in the next few years, given the condition of Maksimir, then it is logical for HNS to invest in infrastructure. I am thinking especially for the new pitch."

Representatives of HNK Hajduk currently do not participate in the work of the HNS body.

"Regarding the presence of Hajduk representatives in the bodies of the Federation, we first want to focus on the football federation of Split-Dalmatia County where Hajduk must be the bearer and leader of positive vibes, choose the right people, renew and strengthen relations with clubs in Dalmatia, and only then participate in HNS. And we want to be ready and equipped for the HNS elections that are scheduled for next year. My personal focus is Hajduk, but Dalmatia must have representatives in HNS who are familiar with Hajduk."

What Hajduk will continue to strongly insist on is the transparency of work within HNS and the moral credibility of all persons who represent HNS or are in any way involved in its work.

"I emphasized once again how important transparency is for the HNS institution itself. The key is what I emphasized at the inaugural press conference, and that is that people who are legally, and in the case of HNS, illegally convicted, have no place within the Federation. This is primarily important for HNS, and indirectly for all clubs, to change the climate of the general impression and restore confidence in the umbrella football institution.

We will not and do not want to run away from all these challenges, we want to confront all stakeholders with them and now, using chess vocabulary, it's the Federation's move. Maintaining the status quo suits only those who benefit from it," concluded Jakobušić.

"We spoke openly about everything, I hope that we will roll up our sleeves as soon as possible and do a lot to benefit Croatian football. We care that Hajduk is strong, competitive and that, in football jargon, it has power. The Croatian Football Federation will not interfere in the work of the Football Federation of Split-Dalmatia County, which must be independent. I would like Hajduk to be the main conductor there and an important factor, everything that its leaders must show by acting through that institution in order to enter the HNS Assembly, is important and they have my support in this matter. It is very important to us that Hajduk continues to create quality young players and that Croatia continues to draw football talents from all over Dalmatia. The national team is coming to Split again in March, and we have to do everything to provide Modrić, Perišić and the company with excellent conditions for the game. We have already made a decision on the reconstruction of the field in Varaždin, Velika Gorica and Šibenik, and my proposal at the next session of the Executive Board will be to fix the Poljud stadium pitch," concluded Davor Šuker.

Source: HNK Hajduk website, HNS wesbite

To read more about sport in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Monday, 14 September 2020

HNS Confirms: Spectators Return to Croatian Football Leagues from September 18

September 14, 2020 - The Croatian Football Federation has confirmed that spectators will return to Croatian football leagues from September 18, 2020. 

The Executive Board of the Croatian Football Federation has decided to allow spectators at stadiums from September 18, so long as they meet several conditions to ensure maximum protection of spectators and all actors in the COVID-19 pandemic.

A limited number of spectators will be able to attend the matches of the HT First League, the Croatian Football Cup, the 2nd HNL, and the First HNL for juniors, cadets, and pioneers, up to 30 percent of the capacity of each grandstand or stadium box. Visiting fans will not be allowed to attend the matches.

The host club is obliged to organize each match following the current measures of the competent local civil protection headquarters, and the organization of matches should be carried out in compliance with all prescribed epidemiological measures (maintaining the distance between spectators, ensuring the use of disinfectants, etc.)

In making this decision, the HNS Executive Board took into account the position of Uefa, which will allow the return of a limited number of spectators to the Super Cup match, and the fact that the epidemiological situation varies significantly from county to county. That is why the arrival of visiting fans will not be allowed.

The decision was made known to the National Civil Protection Headquarters and the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

If there is non-compliance with the measures, particularly the distance between spectators or the number of spectators being exceeded, the competition commissioner is authorized to decide for the host club to play matches without spectators.

If the competent local civil protection headquarters prohibits the arrival of spectators to a certain host club, 50 people of the host club are allowed to attend HT First League matches, and 30 people of the host club are allowed to attend the 2nd HNL matches, provided that this is following epidemiological measures that city or county.

The decision shall apply from September 18, 2020.

Source: HNS

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Thursday, 10 September 2020

HNS Discusses Returning Spectators to Stadiums, Possible from 5th Round of HNL

September 10, 2020 - Big football news today, as HNS discusses returning spectators to stadiums in the Croatian league.

24 Sata reports that about two months after the Croatian Football Federation decided that spectators could not visit stadiums "to minimize the risk of spreading the coronavirus at matches" and bring last season's competition to a successful end, fans should fill the stands of HNL stadiums soon.

"We have a working group that will propose the return of spectators to the stands, one third as allowed with the prior approval of the County Civil Protection Headquarters and, of course, with compliance with all epidemiological measures," said HNS Executive Director Marijan Kustic.

Unfortunately, there will be no fans for the biggest Croatian derby between Hajduk and Dinamo, which will be played on Saturday at Poljud. However, spectators should be allowed again, starting from the fifth round.

It should be reminded that in the 29th round of the HNL last season, HNS allowed spectators before the last round, when coronavirus cases were growing in Croatia. The last round, however, was played without fans. 

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Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Croatian Football Federation and Croatia Airlines Continue Flying Together

September 2, 2020 - An agreement on continuing cooperation between the Croatian Football Federation and Croatia Airlines was signed today at the Croatian Football Federation's headquarters, by which the Croatian national airline remains the official airline of the World Cup finalists and HNS.

The contract was signed by Davor Suker, President of HNS, and Jasmin Bajic, President of the Croatia Airlines' Management Board, announced HNS.

After the Croatia national team returned to Croatia on a special Croatia Airlines flight with silver medals won at the World Cup in Russia, in September 2018, a cooperation agreement was signed between HNS and Croatia Airlines. Given that the cooperation took place mutually, both organizations' leaders decided to continue the partnership for the next two years.

"I am happy to continue cooperation with Croatia Airlines because I consider it natural that the Croatia national team flies with the Croatian national airline. We are in demanding public health circumstances, and that is why I am glad to continue our cooperation with Croatia Airlines because I am sure that the health of passengers comes first and that as our partners, they will do everything to ensure that the team has the best and safest possible conditions for travel. I sincerely hope for a large number of joint, safe, and winning flights," said the president of HNS Davor Suker.

"The continuation of the partnership with HNS is further proof of the strong connection between the Croatian national airline and the Croatia national football team, which has lasted for more than two decades. I believe that further cooperation between two recognizable Croatian brands, aviation, and football, will contribute to the successful promotion of our country around the world," said Jasmin Bajic, President of the Management Board of Croatia Airlines.

The tradition of transporting the Croatia national football team from major competitions began 22 years ago, in July 1998, when the football team returned home on a Croatia Airlines plane with a bronze medal won at the World Cup in France. Twenty years later, in July 2018, a specially branded Airbus 319 aircraft with the inscription 'Bravo Vatreni!' returned the silver-medalists from Moscow to Zagreb on a solemn flight, over the crowded Ban Josip Jelacic Square.

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Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Ronaldo is Coming to Poljud: Nations League Match Between Croatia and Portugal in Split!

September 1, 2020 - The Executive Board of the Croatian Football Federation has decided that the Nations League match between Croatia and Portugal will be played in Split.

The last round match of the Nations League Group C between Croatia and Portugal will be played on November 17 at Poljud Stadium in Split, announced HNS.

The 2018 World Cup finalists thus return to Split after a spectacular match against Hungary in the European qualifications for EURO 2020, which was played on October 10 last year.

HNS Executive Director Marijan Kustic and Executive Board member Ile Topuzovic held a meeting today with representatives of the City of Split, led by Mayor Andro Krstulovic-Opara, who gave their consent for the match in Split.

We remind you that in Group C of the Nations League, Croatia will compete against Portugal, France and Sweden. After the September opening in Porto and Paris, Croatia will host Sweden and France in October in Zagreb, while in November they will play against Sweden and then finish the group competition in Split against Portugal.

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Tuesday, 1 September 2020

HNS Releases New Croatia Uniforms for Nations League and Euros

September 1, 2020 - The Croatian Football Federation has released the new Croatia uniforms to be worn at the upcoming Nations League matches and the Euros next summer.

"Croatian football is a term for pride, passion, skill and those irresistible checkers, all of which can be seen in the new, dynamic Nike collection that the Croatia national team will wear in the upcoming cycle, which includes the European Championship next summer," announced HNS on Tuesday.

In the new collection, the traditional home jersey features the large and striking world-famous Croatian checkers. The traditional red and white jersey again has checkers on the sleeve of the jersey. The logos of HNS and technical partner Nike adorn the front of the jersey, with the number located in the center, while a blue line runs down along the torso side.

The words "Croatia" and "Vatreni" are printed inside the jersey as a symbol of pride, and white shorts and red socks complete look. The same words can be found on the new pre-match warm-up shirt with a modern design with two shades of blue and an unusual square pattern.

"Croatia is always a great inspiration to Nike because of the strength of its identity," said Scott Munson, vice president of Nike's football department. "The new home jersey is faithful to Croatian football heritage, while the reserve jersey is another great interpretation of Croatian design for players and fans."

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HNS

The 2018 World Cup finalists get a fresh look on the reserve jersey, which has abstract black and gray checkers extending throughout the jersey and also appear on the socks. The Federation's coat of arms, the red line, and other red details give this jersey a special look.

"I like the new jerseys, I think they will suit us very well," said captain Luka Modric. "The first jersey is a classic design with a modern touch - and those striking checkers I remember from the time I watched the national team as a boy. The reserve jersey is new, different, and exciting, something we haven't had before."

The new jerseys are available on nike.com from September 1, and the entire collection is available from September 4 in all Nike stores and its partners.

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Sunday, 30 August 2020

Coronavirus Enters HNS: Executive Director Marijan Kustic Comments on Situation

August 30, 2020 - HNS Executive Director Marijan Kustic explained the current situation in HNS, after they announced that members of the U-21 national team staff are coronavirus-positive.

Gol.hr reports that COVID-19 has entered the Croatian Football Federation. HNS issued a statement on Saturday:

"Two members of the youth national team staff, including coach Igor Biscan, are positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus (without symptoms), so the current coach will not lead the U-21 national team at the upcoming September gathering.

Due to close contact with the infected, other members of Biscan's staff, in addition to Renato Pilipovic, have to go into self-isolation for 14 days,” reads the HNS statement, among other things.

Nova TV reporter Milan Stjelja discussed the topic with HNS executive director Marijan Kustic.

"For the sake of prevention, we tested the staff of the senior and youth national teams. Unfortunately, we have now heard that the coach of the U-21 national team, Igor Biscan, is positive for the coronavirus, as well as another member of the staff. We heard from each other on several occasions today, Igor has no symptoms, but the result is positive, so he and his staff have to go to self-isolation for 14 days due to close contact,” Kustic said in the introduction.

The young national team will play two important matches in the Euro U-21 qualifiers at the beginning of September. Who will replace Biscan on the bench?

"We only had consultations today, in which Biscan also participated by phone. We agreed that the U-17 national team coach Tomislav Rukavina and the HNS chief instructor Petar Krpan would take over.“

Luckily, there are no positive results in the headquarters of the senior national team.

"It is gratifying, the entire staff headed by coach Dalic is negative. For the sake of prevention, we tested everything so as not to get into a situation where the virus, God forbid, spreads at the gathering, to bring playing the matches into question.”

What about the players?

"They must come to the gathering with negative results that must not be older than 72 hours."

Certainly of interest to the Croatian public is the HNS decision to play an exhibition match in Donji Miholjac between the veterans of Jedinstvo and veterans of the Croatia national team, which also featured the president of the Federation Davor Suker, with a limited audience.

When we know that HNS decided to play the end of the season without spectators, and there are currently no spectators in the new season,  was the wrong step taken?

"I can only say that the club Jedinstvo from Donji Miholjac, on the occasion of their anniversary, asked veterans of the Croatia national team to come and enhance their jubilee. Of course, before that, they had a meeting with the local Civil Protection Headquarters, with the obligation to respect all epidemiological measures. I am convinced that this was the case,"  concluded Kustic.

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Wednesday, 5 August 2020

HNS Executive Director Marijan Kustic Talks About Upcoming Season, Spectators, and National Team

August 5, 2020 - Executive director of the Croatian Football Federation, Marijan Kustic, spoke about the just-finished season, the Cup final, the playoffs, referees and VAR, the national team and coach Zlatko Dalic, the junior championship that stirred relations with Hajduk, and other current events in his latest interview. 

The interview with Lovorko Magdic is transmitted in full, as reported by HRT:

The end of the season is just around the corner, as are the playoffs for the First HNL. What is your impression of the Cup final?

"I am happy that the final of this year's Cup was played in Kresimir's city, the city of the greatest athlete in the history of Croatia, Drazen Petrovic. I think that the match between Rijeka and Lokomotiva took place in a nice atmosphere. The slightly luckier team won, and I am really happy and proud that everything went well and that nothing happened after the game," says Kustic.

At one time during the corona era, there were spectators, now again, there are not.

"We monitor the epidemiological situation on a daily basis, and we simply did not want to get into a situation where we do not start the new competition season, which starts very soon. That is why we decided that there will be no spectators in the last round, in the Cup final and the qualifying matches of Istria and Orient, and we will most likely start the new championship also without spectators. With the current decision, the Nation's League is also played without spectators, which is why we decided to play the national team matches in Zagreb."

HNS quickly adapted to the health situation in Croatia and the world regarding football competitions in the country.

"As soon as we got into this situation with the coronavirus, we set up a working group, with doctors, epidemiologists and our people who run competitions within HNS. We followed the everyday situation, so we made decisions. When we stopped competing, few believed that we would bring the season to an end, which was perhaps the most interesting since the founding and independence of Croatia, because the order on the table was not known until the last round."

Your impression of the referees?

"There are always those who are satisfied and dissatisfied. Our goal was to introduce a VAR system; with this, we wanted to reduce errors to a minimum. What we always like to say is that we don’t want tails to be chased after games, but we can state that the reffing was very good. The application of VAR proved to be a great hit, we are satisfied and happy, we need even more education, and over time it will improve."

The playoffs for the First HNL used to be very interesting, the fight between the First League ninth place and second-place finishers from the Second League. Have the playoff matches lost their competitive charm?

"All these qualifying matches have their charm and I hope that there will be great matches in the future as well. Most importantly, it was shown in the 1st HNL that by investing in infrastructure and building better and better pitches, we have better and better games, more goals, fewer cards and fewer injuries to players."

The first league is more and more stable, even more interesting in the media, and a new agreement on media rights is on that track.

"That is great for Croatian football, for Croatian clubs. All funds will be directed to clubs, the first league, women's league, futsal league. It’s a big step forward, especially in this situation, because it’s not easy for clubs to raise funding to sustain and endure an entire season."

Will the second division endure all the turbulence currently happening?

"I deeply hope it will. The other day we had an assembly of clubs in the Second League, and as the Federation, we will also participate when it comes to financial assistance in paying club fees, with some 90 thousand kuna per club. We are doing everything to help the clubs, and we will do it in the future as well. Our goal is for the clubs to survive, not to shut down."

Onto the Croatia national team - the start of the Nations League is in September, is the start of this competition in any way in danger?

"The dates are known, and at this moment the decision is such that there will be no spectators, so it was much more practical and simple to organize in Zagreb, so the matches will be played in Zagreb for now."

The contract with coach Zlatko Dalic has been renewed.

"From the beginning, we said that there would be no problems, it was a mutual wish and we are looking forward to our further cooperation and the success of the Croatia national team."

There were many different comments, arguments and justifications about the final of the Croatian Junior Championship.

"I have repeatedly stated my opinion on this. Decisions were made, we asked for the opinion of Uefa, which said its own and presented the practice on which the countries in Europe were based when it comes to the same or similar issues regarding the conclusion and selection of clubs for European competitions. Before the final decision was defined, we consulted with them and sent a letter to them. We have acted according to the practice in Europe, although I have stated before that it is always best to solve it on the pitch, but such decisions are always the most difficult to make."

The Executive Director of HNS also commented on the work of the health commission headed by Dr. Dragan Primorac.

"Truly all praise to our health committee and the working group that is working hard on it. I hope that the new tests will not have any coronavirus-positives, so as not to get into a situation where we have to question play and regularity."

HNS's cooperation with the International Olympic Committee, whose new member is former Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, is intensifying.

"Congratulations to her once again on her election, it is a great success to be elected to such a body. As for the cooperation itself, we are working on its improvement, not only in the interest of HNS, but in the interest of all federations in Croatia. We have intensified this collaboration over the last year. I will be a representative in the Assembly of the Croatian Olympic Committee on behalf of HNS, so I am looking forward to working with Mr. Zlatko Mates. I hope that we will all work together for the benefit of Croatian sport."

In the two years since Croatia played the World Cup final, when you say that you are the executive director of HNS, or that you come from Croatia, how much has the attitude of people from abroad changed?

"It has certainly changed; it should not be emphasized much. Whatever country you go to, everyone mentions Modric and our other players - this is the biggest promotion of Croatia in the world. Looking at our cooperation with other federations in general (basketball, handball ...), I think that we should all work together for the benefit of Croatia with the Law on Sports and the Financing of Sports. If we all work together in that direction, we will make a big step forward. I hope that the future will be better and brighter for sports in general," concluded Marijan Kustic.

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