GNK Dinamo Zagreb: Has the Mamić Era Come to an End?

GNK Dinamo Zagreb’s executive director Zdravko Mamić announced his resignation once again. At the same time an initiative “For our Dinamo”, composed of Croatian ex-football stars, is determined to crush Mamić’s 11 harsh years

This might seem like an ordinary football shift, however its implications go much deeper. Dinamo Zagreb is Croatia’s most successful club with 15 league trophies since the Croatian Independence, of which are 8 consecutive. And it is likely Dinamo will celebrate its 16th very soon. While the club is successful on the national level, fan support on the stands is nearly inexistent. Since 2010 Dinamo’s ultras group Bad Blue Boys boycott nearly all domestic matches, creating a shameful and poor atmosphere during performances.

A business, not a football club

The situation is such because of its director Zdravko Mamić who, while successfully keeping the club at top flight, is criticized to have imposed an autocratic reign since 2003 and created a large business club with controversial financial transactions. Since his arrival, according to the fans, the club lost its soul by constant player transfers to controversially legal branch clubs and replacements of coaches. The club has been criticized of being solely business-orientated with controversial and corrupted administration.

2014 – the decisive year?

The problem is not in whether the club is bad sportily or not, but that it serves as an example of a vivid undemocratic and corrupted leadership. Dinamo Zagreb is one of the most popular Balkan clubs and a childhood pride of Zagreb locals. Though each year of undemocratic administration seems to undermine this quality. However, things are finally starting to look bright with the initiative “For our Dinamo”, composed of a number of Croatian 1998 World Cup Bronze-medal winners, who are actively trying to unite all the fans and promote the democratic idea of “One member, one vote” and democratically elect the club’s CEO for a 4-year mandate. Angry, Zdravko Mamić accused the initiative of being an “anti-Mamić gang” trying to destroy the club and its long success-story.

All this pressure made Mamić once again decide to annonce his resignation. Everyone is against us. From media to the government. I do not have any other choice but to leave”, said Mamić. Whether this accumulating pressure will result in his actual resignation is unknown. According to the past experiences, it is unlikely to happen.The “For our Dinamo” initiative hopes to be strong enough to actually persuade Mamić and his administration to resign and make democratic elections. Dario Šimić, one of the founders of the initiative and a former football star foreshadowed once outcame: We know how the dictators ended up throughout history”.

Andro Nogolica

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Epochal football draw: Kosovo kicks its way to international recognition

“Kosovo – Haiti 0:0. As I said earlier, regardless result, Kosovo won” tweeted enthusiastically on the 5th March Hashim Thaci, the Prime Minister of Kosovo, after the first intenationally-recognized match played by the Kosovar national team against the representation of Haiti. Not for the first time in the history, football was about much more than the final score.

Kick off to a better future

Taking place almost one month after the 6th anniversary of Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence in the multi-national city of Mitrovica, the match carried an important symbolical meaning. 17000 tickets were sold within a couple of hours- the politically, ethnically and religiously divided population of the youngest European country shared the eagerness to be a part of this epochal event. Meanwhile, the message sent to the international community has never been more obvious- the ostracism of Kosovo is no longer a solution. Some states such as Russia or Serbia as 5 members states of the EU firmly refuse to accept Kosovo’s independance, hindering efficently Pristina’s efforts to join the United Nations.

Organisational framework- a bittersweet compromise

800px-Flag_of_Kosovo.svgOne did not need to be a football expert to realize that the first match of the Kosovar national team was anything but ordinary. No national anthem was played and the yellow-blue flag was not displayed at the stadium. It was a part of the compromise concluded during tripartite negotiations from January 2014 between Sepp Bladder, Tomislav Karadzic and Fadil Vokrri, presiding respectively FIFA, Serbian and Kosovar football federations. Football clubs and the national representation of Kosovo are entitled to play only friendly matches against FIFA members, excluding nevertheless states of former Yougoslavia. Regarding national symbols, the strict regulations allow uniquely “to wear or display kit or equipment bearing the name ‘Kosovo’ as well as the symbol of a star of the size of the letter ‘o’ in the name ‘Kosovo’.” What may be considered as the most peculiar regulation it that Kosovo’s matches are to be reported to FIFA, which is subsequently to inform the Football Association of Serbia. In spite of its restrictive character, the agreement between Serbian and Kosovar representatives is considered as a sign of a thaw in tense relations between these two countries, actively advocated by the European Union and the majority of the international community.

Turning point for the Kosovar sport

The meaning of this first internationally- sanctioned match goes far beyond the scope of one discipline. Sport, and above all the constitution of national teams and their presence on the supranational level, has served for many decades as a means to forge not only national identity, but also international recognition. Nevertheless, the way to go for the the newest European country is still long and winding. So far, supranational entities have fully recognized the Kosovar federations in among others minigolf, judo and sailing, whereas many others maintain Kosovo’s status as provisional or associated.  For instance, due to the non-recognition of the Tennis Federation of Kosovo, its Serbian counterpart insisted on removing the Kosovar flag form the website of the International Tennis Federation, published there on the occasion of the World Tennis Day. Finally, lacking in the UN membership, Kosovo cannot join the International Olympic Committee. “I don’t know why politics must come before everything, » said Majlinda Kelmendi, the young Kosovar judoka unabled to represent her country during the Summer Olympics in London in 2012. Nevertheless, she managed to bring glory to Kosovar sport by winning the World Judo Championship in Rio de Janeiro in August 2013.[11]

Even though the end of the match in Mitrovica was whistled over a month ago, the game is not over either for Kosovar sport nor for the young Kosovar state.

Karolina Gutowska 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, le plus balkanique des Suédois

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, l’attaquant star du PSG, 31 ans, vient de publier son autobiographie, intitulée en toute modestie Moi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Où l’on découvre un Zlatan qui ne fait pas que « zlataner ».

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, tel le roi Midas, transforme tout en or : le ballon comme les droits d’auteur. Non content de sa brillante carrière sportive et de son salaire exorbitant de 14 millions d’euros, son livre est un véritable succès en Suède, son pays natal, où il s’est vendu à 500 000 exemplaires. Il entend bien aller au-delà de son image de footballeur talentueux au caractère arrogant et explosif si bien illustrée par sa marionnette des Guignols de l’Info.

Né en 1981 à Rosengard, un quartier pauvre et peuplé d’immigrés de la banlieue de Malmö, en Suède, d’un père bosniaque et d’une mère croate, Zlatan connaît une enfance pour le moins difficile. Ses parents divorcent alors qu’il n’a que deux ans. Sa mère, qui gagne laborieusement sa vie comme femme de ménage, n’hésite pas à le frapper, tandis que sa demi-sœur trafique de la drogue. Il est alors placé chez son père, concierge alcoolique, qui assiste impuissant à l’implosion de son pays d’origine, la Yougoslavie, et oublie régulièrement de nourrir ses enfants.

Droit au but

Elève médiocre, Ibrahimovic passe son adolescence à jouer les caïds et à voler des vélos, tout en rêvant de devenir footballeur professionnel.

Moi, Zlatan

Très jeune, il manifeste un talent incontestable pour le football qu’il pratique dès l’âge de 6 ans au sein du FBK Balkan. Si Zlatan se sent parfaitement à son aise dans cette équipe d’immigrés yougoslaves, c’est tout le contraire lorsqu’il intègre le Malmö FF, où il est le seul fils d’étrangers. Pourtant, très vite, il signe avec les meilleurs clubs européens. De l’Ajax Amsterdam au PSG en passant par le Milan AC, Zlatan a brillé dans tous les équipes qu’il a fréquentées. Il a également su s’imposer au sein de la sélection nationale suédoise, dont il est le capitaine.

Un Zlatan, des identités

Une véritable success story. Détenteur à la fois des nationalités suédoise et bosnienne, Ibrahimovic entretient pourtant des rapports ambivalents avec les Balkans. Il esquive régulièrement les questions portant sur ses origines et rechigne à converser dans la langue de ses parents. Pourtant, il affectionne particulièrement le FBK Balkan, dont il a financé la rénovation du terrain.

Alors qu’un journaliste l’interroge sur son style de jeu, lui demandant s’il est « plutôt Suédois ou Yougoslave », il répond que « c’est du Zlatan style ». L’histoire de Zlatan Ibrahimovic, immigré de seconde génération, aux identités multiples et complexes, oscille entre sa terre d’accueil et son pays d’origine. Comme des passes en milieu de terrain.

Hélène Mastowski