Dario Šimić is one of the most recognisable face of Croatian sports, former defender of great clubs, a man with 100 appearances for the Croatian National Football Team and part of the bronze generation from France 1998, President of the Football Union, successful businessman with water and coffee, and in the future maybe the President of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS)
In his best football days, Dario Šimić was a great stopper, or better said, defender. He literally ‘pocketed’ many great forwards, and after his football career found himself facing the largest challenge. Together with his associates he decided to enter the race as a candidate for the lead position of HNS currently held by Davor Šuker, the most efficient scorer in the history of Croatia. As is known by now, Šimić did not manage to collect enough support in county football federations, so in sports terminology it can be said he has lost first match against Šuker, Tportal published on December 9, 2017.
It seems the only candidate at the Election Assembly on December 22 will be the current President Davor Šuker, Šimić’s former national teammate.
But after presenting his detailed programme all around Croatia, the Zagreb native Šimić is convinced the game is not over.
“Honestly, I am not disappointed and consider it all a large success, was well as the program we offered. We have shown that people want change and our fight for a cleaner and better football is just beginning. I believe we were clear in all issues. My close associates and I wish for people to enjoy football as the sport is played for the fans. I repeat, the poll results have shown there is hope for our football and that support is most important to me, although it seems HNS is an unsurmountable fortress,” said the visibly tired Šimić after it became clear he would not have enough signatures of support by at least nine county federations.
“HNS needs to start opening up to the people as this state cannot be sustained for a long time. The negative energy being felt and the discontent of fans will rupture sooner or later somewhere. My associates and I will surely not give up and we continue this effort. I like to say we will be a constructive opposition,” said Šimić with a steady voice.
Just like the player he was, his retirement did not change him: feisty, ambitious, honest and positively stubborn. Not giving up until he reaches his goal.
Football is in Dario’s blood and he could not do without it. After his business ventures stabilised, the former national team player was a counsellor for the Palermo club president, but he also did something much more important for Croatian football. With the help of former footballer Marijo Jurić, whom he met as a teenager while training with the late Zdravko Jurčić – Miš, they founded the Croatian Association Football Union (HUNS) and Šimić was made President. Thus the proven humanitarian decided to help his sports colleagues. Unlike some who left Croatia to be far away from such a state of football and those who stayed for their own benefit, he began a fight for those who were almost welfare cases.
In reality, not all footballers live well; many clubs do not pay salaries, and the players are obliged to settle their dues to the state, thus falling into bonded labour. Taxes must be paid regardless of contacts not being fulfilled. Šimić and the Union began visiting clubs, pointing out existential issues to HNS, seeking the help FIFA and UEFA. The Union provided legal aid to players, represented them in court cases, aided them financially and secured additional education. It was tough in the first years, but today it is all at a higher level.
“I feel we have done exceptional things in these several years, and it is a big deal that HUNS became a full member of FIFPro. We organised camps for players without contracts, an award for the best footballers and staff, represented pro bono players in over 240 disputes, helped some players who played abroad to secure pensions,” said Šimić and added he is most proud that some thirty former footballer enrolled at the UCN university in Denmark. The information that Croatian football players pay a symbolic three hundred euro through HUNS instead of a full 24 thousand euro price, speaks enough.
Šimić pointed out the Union he started, with all of the above, is also socially responsible and has worked on various projects such as “Red card for racism,” “Say no to match rigging,” “Play for life, play for them” and others.
But soon Šimić realised he can truly help Croatian football only if he is the main man of HNS.
“The desire of my associates Pletikosa, Stanić, Vlaović, Jurić and me is to restore faith in the Croatian football, and I can only do that as HNS President. I believe I have enough references for the job and we will point out irregularities. We will not give up the fight easily,” stated Šimić, who never admitted as a player to another that they were better until they proved it to him on the pitch.
In his push for HNS president, due to somewhat strange rules over candidacy submissions, he did not get a chance to face current President Davor Šuker and congratulate him. He was also forced to take legal action as he feels the Election Assembly of HNS is currently not legal. He sends a clear message to those cocooned in HNS that he will not give up easily. The match has just started…
Translated from Tportal.hr.