Friday, 5 June 2020

Croatian First League Returns with Hajduk v. Inter Zapresic at Poljud

June 5, 2020 - After a nearly three-month break due to COVID-19, the Croatian Football League returned on Friday for the 27th round match between Hajduk and Inter Zapresic at Poljud. TCN was there. 

While the football season in Croatia continued with the semifinals of the Croatian Cup last weekend, football fans in Croatia could hardly wait for the return of the Croatian Championship. The last game of the Croatian First League was played on March 9, when Lokomotiva celebrated in Gorica 3:1.

Exactly 88 days later, Hajduk was hungry for points to ensure second place and the Champions League qualifiers against the second-to-last place Inter, a club fighting to stay alive. Hajduk had celebrated in seven consecutive games against Zapresic in Split before tonight.

TCN reported live from a much quieter Poljud on Friday, as only journalists and a select few others were invited to witness the return of Hajduk outside of club members. Temperatures were checked upon entering the stadium, and no dilly-dallying was allowed - you were meant to go straight to your seat once inside. 

The pre-game protocol was also a bit different for players, who were not allowed to line-up or touch hands before kick-off. 

While the raging jugo wind and quiet stands didn't help either side on Friday, Hajduk dominated most of the first half - and Torcida even found a way to cheer outside of the stadium in the 25th minute - with fireworks! 

Unfortunately, Torcida's display couldn't help much - Inter's Mamut scored from a free-kick in the 37th minute for 0:1, which was how the first half ended. 

The ref consulted VAR in the 56th minute which saw a Hajduk penalty and a red card for Inter's Soldo. Caktas missed, though was given a second chance after the ref called that the keeper was off his line. Caktas scored this time for 1:1. 

Hajduk spent the remainder of the match in Inter's half, missing key chances for 2:1. And then it happened in the 7th minute of added time - Dimitrov scored for 2:1, which was the final score of the game. 

Slaven Belupo and Gorica will play on Saturday at 7 pm, and Varaždin and Dinamo at 9 pm, while the matches between Istra 1961 - Rijeka and Lokomotiva - Osijek will end the round on Sunday.

The Championship continues without spectators, but since the epidemiological situation in Croatia is good, the return of fans to the stadiums can be expected.

You can see the full HNL table HERE.

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


Thursday, 4 June 2020

Igor Tudor: I Want Hajduk Players to have Michael Jordan Mentality

June 4, 2020 - After several months away, the Croatian First League will return this week with the match between Hajduk and Inter Zapresic at Poljud on Friday at 8 pm.

This means that the pre-game press conferences have returned, but not in the standard form. Hajduk coach Igor Tudor addressed the press via Zoom on Wednesday. We are transmitting the meeting via

What are the expectations and what kind of Hajduk will we see?

"We are all looking forward to the game; that's why we work and live. It's a unique story to play without an audience, and it's never been pleasant for me. It's an aggravating circumstance for the home team. We have to justify the role of favorites on Friday. At the moment, we have 10 games, and we want to win each one. I think the players are in good shape; they are motivated, they are eager. "

Who stood out the most during the break?

"I never like to point out individuals, but there will be three or four new names on Friday. They have imposed themselves during this break, they are here, but in football, everything changes in a few moments. I want to get a winning mentality from the team. Every rehearsal and every addition better. I think this generation is missing that in general, we saw it in Jordan's documentary 'The Last Dance'. I want to see it and we're going in the direction of improving it."

Will there be a loudspeaker at the stadium during matches?

"We'll see. Normally it's not that, it has nothing to do with real cheering, it has pros and cons, it kills that sick silence, but on the other hand, you hear some weird noise. I really hope the audience comes back in a few rounds and we continue going in the right direction."

What is the impact of the break on the state of the team, plans for the transition period and the summer?

"As it is for us, so it is for everyone else. In time, everything will be better, in terms of the whole game. An important segment is the selection of players, and we overestimate the role of coaches in such things. You have to be a magician for that, considering the budgets that Croatian clubs have."

Any comment on the Croatian Cup semifinal?

"It didn't look bad; there was a good rhythm, a good Slaven in the first half, Lokomotiva solved the game thanks to individual class. The referees overshadowed the great game between Rijeka and Osijek; the boys in black were the best individuals there. Osijek solved that game already, but the boys in black disagreed."

What about Inter?

"We looked at them a bit in two friendly matches. We will be asked the most here. We have to run full throttle from the first minute and sort things out as soon as possible. We're going to win."

What about the match schedule?

"The schedule is not tight, and it's good that we have five substitutions. This way, while playing every five days, it's not bad."

Did you hear from Bjelica after his dismissal at Dinamo? In addition, will these referee problems ever change in the HNL?

"Neno is great, the enemy never sleeps, not even across the border, and he was surprised by a neighbor from Bosnia. As for the refereeing, Hajduk has always beared the brunt of the refs, and now that is Osijek. We give them support. In the last 30 years, what should not be happening is happening, the refs who should be invisible are always here. That can change immediately, but a few people decide it. I welcome the suspension of refs, whoever makes a mistake has to suffer the consequences. The HNL has a long, beautiful history around that, but I hope it goes in a better direction as a lot of things in this state are going in a better direction."

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

Monday, 1 June 2020

Croatian Cup: Rijeka and Lokomotiva to Meet in Final

June 1, 2020 - After the semi-final games last weekend, Lokomotiva and Rijeka will meet in the Croatian Cup final on August 1, 2020. 

Croatian football finally returned last weekend, albeit looking a bit different in the corona era. 

Namely, HNS reports that Statehood Day brought the continuation of football competitions in Croatia, and Slaven Belupo and Lokomotiva kicked off in the first semi-final of the Croatian Cup on Saturday. The match was watched live by the president of the Croatian Football Federation Davor Šuker and the coach of the Croatia national team, Zlatko Dalić.

The Koprivnica club took the lead in the sixth minute of the game, when Goda shook the net with a great long-distance shot under Grbić's crossbar (1:0).

The turnaround was directed by Zagreb in the second half, in the 67th and 79th minute of the game, when Cokaj (1:1) and Tolić (2:1) beat Filipović, with assists by Sammir, who entered the game in the middle of the second half.

Uzuni set the final score of 3:1 for Lokomotiva in injury time. 

In the second match of the Cup semi-final on Sunday, Rijeka and Osijek met in Rujevica.

Less than half an hour before the end of the game, Osijek led with 0:2 with goals by Bočkaj (16th, 48th minutes), but Rijeka managed to achieve a turnaround after playing a man up in the second half and with the help of referee Pajač. Murić (66th), Čolak (73rd, penalty ) and Yateke (86th) were the goalscorers for Rijeka.

Rijeka will thus play in the Cup final for the seventh time. So far, it has lifted the winning trophy five times (2005, 2006, 2014, 2017, 2019). Its rival in the final, which will be played on August 1 in Šibenik, will be Lokomotiva. It will be Lokomotiva's second appearance in the final, after they lost to Hajduk in 2013.

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

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

350 Players and Staff in Croatian First League Test Negative for COVID-19

May 20, 2020 - The results of genetic testing for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a sample of 350 players and members of the professional staff of Croatian First League clubs ruled out the existence of COVID-19 in the tested population.

HNS reports that the second phase of testing continues this week, which includes serology tests in addition to RT-qPCR molecular tests to determine the presence of specific IgA and IgG antibodies. The presence of igG antibodies is important because it confirms that the person has overcome the disease.

In his efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19, the president of the Health Commission of the Croatian Football Association, Dr. Dragan Primorac and co-workers developed a comprehensive model that includes, among other things, the application of specific tests to determine the existence of genetic material of SARS-CoV-2 virus, using molecular tests RT-qPCR. Specifically, this analysis proves the presence of viral (N, E, RdRP) genes of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Determining the presence of viral genetic material is done from a sample of nasopharyngeal swabs (part of the pharynx behind the nasal cavity) since the nasopharynx is one of the places the virus is concentrated after entering the human body. In this model, genetic testing is done at intervals of five days, in order to avoid obtaining false-negative results. Namely, the so-called latency period (the period from contact with the virus to the production of new virus particles) lasts approximately five days.

The project, which is already known in the world today as the "Croatian model", and which was published in the prestigious Journal of Global Health, was strongly supported by Fifa and Uefa. The Teaching Institute for Public Health “dr. Andrija Štampar", Special Hospital Sv. Katarina, International Society for Applied Biological Sciences (ISABS) and Genos Laboratory. Logistical support for the project is also provided by the "HNS Commission for the Covid-19 Pandemic", which includes members of the HNS Health Commission and scientists from the Clinic for Infectious Diseases "Dr. Fran Mihaljević”, Teaching Institute for Public Health "Dr. Andrija Štampar" and the Croatian Institute of Public Health.

The Croatian Football Federation especially emphasizes the great cooperation with clubs, players and members of the professional staff who acted extremely responsibly during the implementation of this project. Also, the Croatian Football Federation continues to implement all measures prescribed by the National Civil Protection Headquarters of the Republic of Croatia.

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

Monday, 18 May 2020

Capak Talks Return of Croatian First League, Testing Players, and Club Consequences

May 18, 2020 - The director of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters Krunoslav Capak was a guest on Croatian football television where he commented and explained the epidemiological conditions for the return of football and the Croatian First League.

T.portal reports that the football season in Croatia continues on Saturday, May 30, when Lokomotiva and Slaven Belupo meet in the semifinals of the Croatian Cup. On May 31, Osijek and Rijeka meet in the other semifinal match.

The Hrvatski Telekom Croatian First League resumes on June 6, and Krunoslav Capak, the head of the Croatian Institute of Public Health (HZJZ) and a member of the National Civil Protection Headquarters, commented on what we can expect for Croatian Football Television.

"We let the training begin, and if the situation is as it is now, then competitions can start. We will agree with everyone. A PCR test is valid for up to two days, after which a person can become contagious, so we do not like excessive use of tests. One test costs a thousand and a half kuna and the benefits and costs need to be weighed. If someone can afford it, that's fine, but by keeping the measures and without testing, a high level of safety can be achieved," Capak explained some of the epidemiological measures that Croatian first division players have to implement if they want to play at all.

The problem arises if just one player is infected with the coronavirus. What will happen in that case?

"If one of the players is positive, everyone who has been in contact with him in the last 48 hours must be in self-isolation," Capak says clearly and continues:

"The alternative is additional testing, but the test is valid for 24, at most 28 hours, so you would have to test constantly until 14 days. They and their family will have to isolate themselves at home. At the same time, it probably means the end of the competition for that club,"  revealed Capak.

Reading between the lines, if this worst-case scenario happens, the regularity of the entire competition comes into question, so it is almost certain that the most radical measures would be taken, and that is the termination of the Croatian First League competition.

A few days ago, the coach of Varaždin, Samir Toplak, wondered how it is possible that there can be as many as 200 people in churches, and spectators are not allowed in the stands. Football is still played outdoors, and there is more than enough space in the stands for those who would be encouraged to come. Social distance in the stands should not be a problem.

But according to Capak, these two types of gatherings are incomparable. True, the head of the HZZJ left the possibility that perhaps by further easing the measures in the near future, spectators - in limited numbers - could go to the stands of football stadiums.

"Mass is a static event where there is no contact except at communion for which there are precise epidemiological measures. Churches are both tall and airy buildings, and there is more interaction in cinemas and theaters, as well as at matches. There are epidemiological measures that could be prescribed to spectators in the stands, but it is still high risk. We are going in stages, although everyone would like everything right away," concluded Krunoslav Capak.

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

Wednesday, 6 May 2020

HNS Confirms: Croatian Football Returns on May 30

May 6, 2020 - The Executive Board of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has decided that the football season will continue on May 30,  after it was interrupted in March because of COVID-19.

HNS announced on its website that following yesterday's meeting with the Secretary of the Central State Office for Sport, Tomislav Družak, with representatives of the Croatian Institute of Public Health, dates were proposed for concessions in the sports sector. Thus, the relaxed measures concerning the training processes are in place for the next two weeks, while the competitions will resume at the end of May and the beginning of June.

In accordance with the epidemiological situation in the country, the final approval for resuming the competition on the recommendation of the HZJZ will be given by the National Civil Protection Headquarters.

Expecting the proposed dates to be confirmed by the Civil Protection Headquarters, the HNS Executive Board reversed its decision of April 7, 2020, and decided that the football season would continue on May 30 and 31 with the Croatian Cup semi-finals, and on June 6, with the continuation of the Croatian Telecom First League. All matches would be played without the presence of spectators.

The Croatian Cup final, according to the previous plan, would be played on August 1. 

The Second HNL and Third HNL and other minor leagues will not resume the 2019/20 season, as well as competitions in all younger age categories.

The Executive Board will subsequently make decisions on the eventual continuation of competitions in 1st HNLŽ and 1st HMNL, as well as other necessary decisions regarding all competitions under the jurisdiction of HNS, and will notify clubs and the public promptly.

In addition, according to the recommendations of the Croatian Employment Service, HNS will issue binding instructions for clubs ahead of the competition, in order to maximize the health of players and all football players.

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

Thursday, 16 April 2020

Nenad Bjelica No Longer Coach of Dinamo Zagreb

April 16, 2020 - Nenad Bjelica is no longer the coach of Dinamo Zagreb! reports that negotiations at Maksimir lasted for more than three hours on Thursday, after which Dinamo officially announced that Nenad Bjelica was no longer the coach of the Croatian champion.

"GNK Dinamo and Nenad Bjelica have agreed to terminate their business cooperation. The club thanks Nenad Bjelica for his cooperation so far and the results he has achieved as the coach for Dinamo."

No details of the painful breakup are known so far. It should be reminded that by the end of the contract, Dinamo should have paid Bjelica just over two million euro.

Nenad Bjelica arrived at Maksimir this morning after 9 am to discuss terminating his contract. Dinamo had already written off the coach who brought the club the biggest success in Europe in the last 50 years as he did not agree to a reduced salary.

"The breakup was mutual, we didn't even get to fight," Bjelica told reporters.

What caught everyone's eye on Thursday is that Bjelica got out of a car with Split license plates. Namely, he arrived for negotiations with Split lawyer Tomislav Kasal. Kasal is a lawyer representing the Football Union Association and Hajduk and is a member of FIFA's Disputes Commission. He also represents a few Dinamo players.

The club was allegedly surprised that Bjelica arrived with a lawyer for his first interview at the club after the outbreak of the conflict. According to information from close sources, Bjelica did not forget about the dismissed members of his coaching staff who were not entitled to compensation and wanted to settle them in this breakup.

The new coach will be the current expert at the helm of the young squad, Igor Jovicic, which the club should soon confirm. So far, he is the only candidate for Bjelica's successor.

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

Sunday, 12 April 2020

How Much Did Market Value Decrease for Players in Croatian First League?

April 12, 2020 - How has the market value dropped for players of Dinamo, Rijeka, Hajduk, and Osijek? A look at the player value of the Croatian First League from the beginning of March to present. reports that the coronavirus pandemic has caused a decline in market value for all footballers. This situation was expected, however, because the sport has been paralyzed, competitions have been suspended or postponed, and the deadlines are still in question. 

Transfermarkt, the world's most popular football transfer site, has announced that the market value of all players born before January 1, 1998, is down 20 percent, while those born after that date are down 10 percent.

So, how has the market value dropped for players of Dinamo, Rijeka, Hajduk, and Osijek? A comparison from the beginning of March to the present.

The biggest decrease was recorded for Dinamo's Bruno Petkovic and Dominic Livakovic, both of whom dropped 2.5 million euro. However, they remain at the top of the most expensive Croatian championship players.

Namely, before the pandemic, Petkovic was worth 13.5 million euro, while Livakovic was worth 13 million euro. They were accompanied by Mislav Oršić, whose market value was 9.5 million euro. Petkovic is now worth 11 million, Livakovic 10.5, and Orsic is estimated at 7.5 million euro, enough to keep him in third place.

With the example of Petkovic, Livakovic and Orsic, it is easy to conclude that Dinamo's market value has dropped the most, but it is not difficult to assume that the current Croatian champion still holds the most expensive lineup in the Championship.

Dinamo's players had totaled 97 million euro, and their total value now stands at 79.4 million euro, down 18.2 percent.

The coronavirus price drop has has hit Dinamo's Izet Hajrovic the hardest, whose value has been falling since last summer. In July, Hajrovic was worth 3 million euro, and today, his price is only 1.2 million euro. This is a staggering 60 percent drop. He was worth 1.5 million euro before the pandemic.

The overall value of Hajduk players fell by 17.2 percent. Hajduk players were worth 24 million euro, while their value now is 20 million euro.

Hajduk's most expensive player remains Mijo Caktaš, who was worth 3.5 million euro and is now estimated at 2.8 million euro. The price for Josip Juranovic fell half a million euro, and he is now worth two million euro. Brazilian Jairo also dropped by half a million euro, too, and is now worth 1.6 million euro.

A drop similar to Hajduk's was also recorded by Rijeka, whose team was worth 20.5 million euro before the pandemic, and is now worth 16.9 million euro, which is down 17.6 percent.

The price of Antonio Colak from Rijeka dropped from 3 million euro to 2.4 million euro. The value of his teammates Alexander Gorgon and Franko Andrijasevic is now worth 1.6 million euro each, down by 400,000 euro each.

It is impossible to say for the time being if there will be any further reductions in the football market soon, but it is evident that these declines are significant, considering the total sum of all Croatian First League players dropped by 16.3 percent, or from 226.6 million to 189.7 million euro.

This is a decrease of 36 million euro, which is almost equal to the current market value of players from Hajduk and Rijeka, amounting to 36.9 million euro.


Dominik Livakovic - €10.5 million (€13.5 million)
Danijel Zagorac - €475,000 (€600,000)
Dino Peric - €4.8 million (€6 million)
Kevin Theophile Catherine - €4 million (€5 million)
Emir Dilaver - €3.2 million (€4 million)
Josko Gvardiol - €1.3 million (€1.5 million)
Francois Moubandje - €1.6 million (€2 million)
Marin Leovac - €725,000 (€900,000)
Petar Stojanovic - €1.2 million (€1.5 million)
Sadegh Moharrami - €600,000 (€750,000)
Nikola Moro - €5.8 million (€6.5 million)
Arian Ademi - €7 million (€5 million)
Marko Djira - €1.3 million (€1.5 million)
Amer Gojak - €7 million (€5.5 million)
Luka Ivanusec - €3.6 million (€4 million)
Lovro Mayer - €2.3 million (€2.5 million)
Mislav Oršić - €7.5 million (€9.5 million)
Antonio Marin - €1.3 million (€1.5 million)
Damian Kadzior - €2.4 million (€3 million)
Izet Hajrovic - €1.2 million (€1.5 million)
Bruno Petkovic - €13.5 million (€11 million)
Mario Gavranovic - €1.6 million (€2 million)
Sandro Kulenovic - €1.3 million (€1.5 million)
Mario Ćuže - €775,000 (€850,000)


Josip Posavec - €1 million (€1.3 million)
Marin Ljubić - €600,000 (€750,000)
Goran Blažević - €50,000 (€50,000)
Stefan Simić - €800,000 (€1 million)
Ardian Ismajli - €800,000 (€1 million)
Nihad Mujakic - €800,000 (€750,000)
Mario Vuskovic - €600,000 (€525,000)
Kristian Dimitrov - €400,000 (€500,000)
Stipe Vucur - €300,000 (€350,000)
Stipe Radic - €100,000
David Colina - €900,000 (€1 million)
Josip Juranovic - €2 million (€ 2.5 million)
Josip Bašić - €150,000
Darko Nejašmić - €1.8 million (€2 million)
Stanko Juric - €750,000 (€900,000)
Mijo Caktas - €2.7 million (€3.5 million)
Hamza Barry - €800,000 (€1 million)
Bassel Jradi - €800,000 (€1 million)
Jakov Blagaić - €300,000
Loen Krekovic - €50,000
Jairo da Silva - €1.6 million (€2 million)
Ivan Dolček - €450,000 (€500,000)
Samuel Eduok - €1.6 million (€2 million)
Francesco Tahiraj - €300,000 (€450,000)
Marin Jakoliš - €400,000 (€500,000)


Andrej Prskalo - €400,000 (€500,000)
David Nwolokor - €250,000
Ivor Pandur - €250,000 (€150,000)
Hrvoje Smolčić - €750,000 (€850,000)
Nino Galovic - €600,000 (€750,000)
Joao Escoval - €400,000 (€500,000)
Darko Velkovski - €400,000 (€500,000)
Jasmin Celikovic - €150,000 (€200,000)
Daniel Stefulj - €300,000 (€250,000)
Muhammad Kabiru - €50,000
Ivan Tomečak - €550,000 (€750,000)
Momcilo Raspopovic - €475,000 (€600,000)
Ivan Lepinjica - €900,000 (€1 million)
Luka Capan - €525,000 (€650,000)
Domagoj Pavicic - €1.2 million (€1.5 million)
Stjepan Loncar - €1.2 million (€1.5 million)
Franko Andrijasevic - €1.6 million (€2 million)
Tibor Halilovic - €800,000 (€1 million)
Dani Iglesias - €250,000 (€350,000)
Alexander Gorgon - €1.6 million (€2 million)
Felipe Pires - €750,000 (€900,000)
Robert Muric - €750,000 (€900,000)
Antonio Colak - €2.4 million (€3 million)
Sterling Yateke - €300,000


Ivica Ivusic - €650,000 (€800,000)
Marko Malenica - €600,000 (€750,000)
Mile Skoric - €1.4 million (€1.8 million)
Ante Majstorovic - €1.2 million (€1.5 million)
Guti - €525,000 (€650,000)
Danijel Loncar - €300,000 (€400,000)
Talys - €675,000 (€750,000)
Igor Silva - €650,000 (€800,000)
Alen Grgić - €550,000 (€700,000)
Tomislav Sorsa - €150,000 (€250,000)
Mihael Žaper - €900,000 (€1 million)
Vedran Jugovic - €350,000 (€450,000)
Laszlo Kleinheisler - €1.4 million (€1.7 million)
Marin Pilj - €400,000 (€500,000)
Karlo Kamenar - €300,000
Dmytro Lopa - €300,000 (€350,000)
Petar Bockaj - €675,000 (€850,000)
Marveil Ndockyt - €575,000 (€650,000)
Eros Grezda - €1.1 million (€1.35 million)
Josip Špoljarić - €300,000 (€350,000)
Mirko Maric - €3.2 million (€4 million)
Antonio Mance - €1 million (€1.3 million)
Jerry Mbakogu - €400,000 (€500,000)

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



Friday, 10 April 2020

Will Croatian Football Survive Corona? Damir Miskovic of HNK Rijeka Weighs In

April 10, 2020 - Damir Miskovic, the owner and president of HNK Rijeka, talks about the realities of Croatian football after the coronavirus. 

Nearly one month has passed since almost all sports competitions have stopped around the world. The coronavirus pandemic has changed the world as we know it; it has not only stopped sports, but many other branches, and the real consequences of it are yet to come. Sports will be one of the hardest hit.

This is illustrated by the fact that clubs around the world are laying off, or at least furloughing many employees and reducing player wages. Without matches, there is no income, and without income, there is no money to pay off contractual obligations.

If they are already doing this in some of the world's biggest and richest clubs, why would it be any different in Croatia?

Damir Mišković, president of HNK Rijeka, who has been pumping his money into the club for years, tried to explain in an interview with that this is a narrow view of the current situation and that the consequences of this pandemic will be more far-reaching than what is seen at the moment. 

Why was cutting wages in Rijeka necessary? 

"Cutting is an ugly word; I would say we pulled specific measures in a specific situation. We need to understand that the economy of the world in all segments, including sports, will get other dimensions, whether we like it or not. I'm always optimistic, and when I say something pessimistic, I am realistic. This is just the beginning of a major crisis in the world that will lead to a major crisis in sports, both in Croatia and in the world. Who will think of athletes when people who own businesses have to quit?"

What did the first team players conclude at a recent meeting regarding this situation, when the proposal to reanimate the First Team Association was rejected?

"We will have a lot to change in the next 2-3 years. All the HNL clubs were talking about this 3-4 weeks ago. Maybe some didn't understand the gravity of the situation, but now they understand it. We come up with common proposals, but then each club has a specific situation. We have come to an agreement that we need to see how much money anyone will need at their financial level to endure a year, because if some fail, we will not have a League. To say the least, in Inter or Varaždin, a salary of 2000 kuna is a lot, with us it is 2000 euros, a maximum of five or seven thousand, depending on the contract. We talked about it. Now Fifa has helped us too, because if we can't pay the players, we can only give them the papers, because everyone has the right to ask for what the contract should be."

What consequences will the clubs feel in the long run?

"I find it funny when someone says that football is losing nothing. It loses by not playing, that’s number one. Rijeka has enough fans; we have about 5500 regular spectators. When they come, there are more sponsors. If the players do not play, they cannot even show themselves and thus sell themselves, or they can be sold for less money. And our clubs live on sales and that is 80% of their revenue, in fact, the only normal income.

The crisis is already felt, most of the sponsors, big or small, are gone, and that money has paid some expenses, whether it be the working community, electricity, water, mowing the grass... Well, the sponsor who gives you beer in the stadium no longer works. When a small club comes to Dinamo or Hajduk, they earn a month's salary. Additionally, if the season continues, say, in June, players will have about three weeks of preparation after doing nothing for two months. My coaches tell me this is impossible. There will certainly be more injuries that will not allow players to be sold again."

Can the situation in the HNL be compared to that in the stronger leagues?

"We like to watch Barcelona, but we have a lot less to measure. We have to watch our league as it is, and it's much better than it was eight years ago when I came.

I have contacts with people, presidents or directors of the clubs in the League; they are not even thinking about buying or selling today, as rich as they are, just looking at cutting costs and surviving the next year or two."

And how to survive?

"If we tighten the belt and hold it for 10 months, things might get better. If not, we will all sit down together, have a drink, have fun, and go our own way. It will be one hell of a year. People won't have tickets. TV rights? Who will pay for the packages to watch the matches? I'm covered with these measures for the next six months, some clubs will have them in three months, some only for a month, and then what? We all need to survive together, so it will be easy to argue again whether it was offside or not."

Could Croatian football be helped today by the First League Association, called by some?

"It's been four years and what have we done? We did not agree on the ball, joint jersey manufacturers, TV rights, sponsors, nothing. We would be in Zagreb, having lunch together and we did nothing.

If you ask me if we need the First League Association, yes, we do. But it's like the Opatija Initiative, three years ago when we put together a proposal for the systematic financing of sports from TV rights, bookmakers... competition. We would cover 260,000 athletes in Croatia, each sport would have its own representative, and below would be separate bodies, this is how it works. We did the distribution by sports and by clubs, everything was included. To bring together 5-6 trophy sports, so which would be a bigger force in negotiating with sponsors or on TV rights?

But for starters, all football clubs and their representatives, through the HNS Commission with Mr Markulin at the helm, need to talk and come up with models and show that we are able to find sponsors and that we can have an association that produces money for clubs."

If everything goes back to normal, how can you better sell your Croatian football product in the future?

"There are about 160,000 subscribers to HNL channels in Croatia. And where are those pirating? To regulate this would be three times the number of subscribers. Cafes pay the same subscription as individuals, filling 50 seats during a match and everyone watching football for the price of one. They may not have to pay 50 times more, but five times more would be a major shift.

We also get nothing from bookmakers. If someone is watching us and betting on our matches, where is our share?

Furthermore, how many tourists, visiting fans, come to European matches? How many hotels do they get extra nights? We bring thousands of tourists, yet we still have to pay various taxes and surtaxes.

We need to understand that sport is not a profitable branch. Players earn, managers earn, but clubs do not. Sport should be cultivated for people to do sports instead of nonsense, but there is no income there."

How would you comment on the government measures taken today to assist sports associations and clubs in the wake of the corona crisis?

"NK Rijeka is not entitled to benefits for the working community because the City of Rijeka has a 30% stake in the club, but I have to praise the Sports Office for having done this, no one has bothered so much, and that is a step."

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

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Croatian Football Federation Proposes Three Calendar Options to Finish Season

April 7, 2020 - The Executive Board of the Croatian Football Federation has adopted changes to the competition calendar in the 1st and 2nd Croatian League and Croatian Cup, taking into account the current COVID-19 pandemic. Also, new licensing deadlines have been set.

According to the recommendation of the umbrella European football organization, UEFA, the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) management has considered all the options in the calendar to allow a successful end to the competition year. Considering that the further course of the coronavirus pandemic is unpredictable, the HNS Executive Board has adopted three calendar options for the Croatian First League, Second League, and Croatian Cup competitions.

HNS has been in communication with the Central State Office for Sport on this subject, which is aware of and agrees with the decisions cited here.

Depending on the epidemiological situation in the Republic of Croatia and the decisions of the competent authorities, the Executive Board will, by a specific decision, determine which version of the competition calendar change will apply.

In addition, the Olympic Committee has set deadlines by which it will announce a possibly selected version of the decision:

Option 1
1st HNL Competition Starts: May 16, 2020
2nd HNL Competition Starts: May 23, 2020
Completion of the 1st HNL and 2nd HNL Competition: July 18, 2020
Deadline: April 20, 2020

Option 2
1st HNL and 2nd HNL Competition Starts: May 30, 2020
Completion of the 1st HNL and 2nd HNL Competition: July 25, 2020
Deadline: May 4, 2020

Option 3
1st HNL and 2nd HNL Competition Starts: June 13, 2020
Completion of the 1st HNL Competition: August 2, 2020
Completion of 2nd HNL Competition: 1st August 2020
Deadline: May 18, 2020

You can find the suggested calendar options with all competition dates, including the semi-finals and finals of the Croatian Cup HERE.

In addition, the Executive Board, in accordance with the recommendation of UEFA, extended all deadlines related to deciding on the licensing and, therefore, amendments to the Rules on Licensing of HNS Clubs were made. The new deadlines are as follows:

First instance decision: May 15, 2020
First instance decision delivered: May 20, 2020
Deadline for appeal: May. 28, 2020.
Final licensing decision: by June 15, 2020
Final decision to refuse the license: by June 15, 2020
Submission of the list of license seekers: by June 20, 2020.

Finally, as recommended by UEFA, criterion F.05 "Future Financial Information" (Articles 35-40 of the Regulations) will not apply in this year's licensing process.

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



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