HNS Executive Director Marijan Kustic Says Croatia Will No Longer Play at Maksimir

Daniela Rogulj

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

November 16, 2020 – Croatia will no longer play at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, confirmed the executive director of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), Marijan Kustic. reports that this is even though Dinamo started repairing the south stand, which was destroyed in the earthquake.

Recall, there was room for the national team at Maksimir in reduced capacity during the coronavirus pandemic. Still, when the spectators return to the stands, the national team will no longer play at the infamous Zagreb stadium.

“We do not want to question at all that our national team, 2018 World Cup finalists, must have an adequate stadium in the capital. Maksimir is no longer an adequate stadium for the World Cup finalists. The city of Zagreb must give answers to Dinamo and finally find a solution and take action to build a new one. It would be inappropriate for the capital and a club like GNK Dinamo to have such a dilapidated stadium,” Kustic said, noting that there are many countries that are neither at the economic nor football level of Croatia, but have better stadiums.

Kustic mentioned that the spectators are a priority for HNS and that they do not have adequate conditions at Maksimir. In Rijeka, Pula, Varazdin, Osijek, and Split, the situation is different, so the national team will play there in the future until the situation in Zagreb is resolved.

According to a rough estimate, more than a billion kuna has been pumped into Maksimir so far. That is why the Croatian Football Federation launched the idea of building a national stadium.

“We want the national team to play all over Croatia, but the stadium in Zagreb is no longer comfortable, half of the stands are not working, everything is closed and depressing. After the earthquake, the situation worsened; we don’t know if it is safe. My personal opinion is that the national team’s time at Maksimir has passed,” Miskovic said.

The national team does not want to play at the stadium either, and in October, after the match against Sweden, Zenit stopper Dejan Lovren spoke about it publicly.

“All the national teams are surprised that we were second in the world, and we have such conditions. Two or three thousand people came to the match against Sweden at the ugliest stadium in Europe. People didn’t have umbrellas, they were rained on, and I wanted to shake everyone’s hand. It is inadmissible for a national team like ours, which promoted Croatia in the best possible way, to come here and rightly listen to the Sweden coach’s insults. Obviously, some priorities in this country are not right. Some priorities, such as the cable car, are irrelevant. I think that hospitals, kindergartens, and schools should be built first, and then maybe a stadium, but we are not looking for that for ourselves, but for the people who come to watch us. I think we will wake up only when Serbia makes a national stadium,” Lovren said at the time. 

After the national team campaign in October, coach Zlatko Dalic was also clear about using Maksimir stadium for national team matches.

“I don’t know what else to say about it. I’ve been talking for two years; others have been talking for a decade. Maybe we shouldn’t talk anymore but cut and say we won’t play there. We keep saying it’s not a stadium for the national team, and we keep coming. Maybe HNS should say it a lot; we don’t play there anymore, although it would be inconvenient to avoid a city again when hosting the national team,” said Dalic.

In October, Croatia last played in Zagreb in the Nations League matches against Sweden (2:1) and France (1:2), when a third of the stadium’s capacity was open. The only match in November that will be played at home, against Portugal, will be at Poljud on Tuesday.

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


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