Croatia Opens European Water Polo Championships Against Spain in Dubrovnik

Daniela Rogulj

Photo by HVS

January 3, 2024 – The European Water Polo Championships will be held from January 4–16 in Dubrovnik and Zagreb.

A press conference was held on Wednesday ahead of the 36th European Water Polo Championships in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, reports HRT.

The tournament was originally to be held in Israel, but LEN awarded it to Croatia due to the state of war in that country. Croatia is thus the first consecutive host in the tournament’s history, as the last European Championship was held in Split in September 2022.

This year’s European Championship is being held for the first time in two cities – Zagreb and Dubrovnik, where the Croatia national team will play against Spain, Montenegro, and France.

“With great pleasure and nervousness, we are looking forward to the competition ahead of us. Croatia got the opportunity to host the European Championship for the second time in a row and show Europe a wonderful picture from our cities, first Dubrovnik and later Zagreb. From a sporting point of view, we did the best we could, and the matches will soon show just how much that is,” said coach Ivica Tucak.

Marko Bijač, goalkeeper and Barracuda captain, also attended the conference.

“It is a special pleasure for me to play the first three games in my hometown, and my swimming pool, and in front of the Dubrovnik audience. The preparations went well, just as we planned. On Thursday, we have the first game against certainly the toughest opponent, one of the biggest favorites for gold. But if we have the same energy as in Split, we’re all looking forward to tomorrow, and I’m sure another spectacle awaits us.”

Josip Varvodić, the vice president of European Aquatics, said that the idea of organizing the European Championships in Croatia was just a dream two months ago.

“Organized in a new form, in two countries and three cities, because let’s not forget the women’s competition in Eindhoven, is very challenging. Two months is an extremely short time in which it is almost impossible to organize such a large competition, and we managed to do it,” said Varvodić.

Perica Bukić, executive vice president of HVS and president of the EP 2024 Organizing Committee, expressed his pride and satisfaction that after Split, Croatia will again organize such a big competition.

“I also thank the Government of the Republic of Croatia and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković for the support we received, without which nothing would have been possible. I would also like to thank European Aquatics for the trust in which it seems to me that we enjoy a very good status, and of course, thanks to the mayor of Dubrovnik, Mr. Franković. We in Croatia love sports and sports success. We expect full stands at both pools, in Dubrovnik and Zagreb, a great atmosphere, proper fans, and nice matches. Sport brings people together, and that is of particular importance in this day and age.”

The mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, also addressed the media.

“In 1923, the Jug water polo club was founded. A year later, in 1924, the first official water polo match was played in this city. Now, with two centenaries, we have the opportunity to host the best teams in Europe in our city. At the beginning of 2023, we decided on the development of sports tourism in the city of Dubrovnik, and this European Championship is exactly on that track. We had little time for preparations, but I believe that we succeeded in the organization and that everyone, from athletes to fans and guests, will feel comfortable and beautiful during the next two weeks.”

The European Championship begins on Thursday. Croatia plays its first match against Spain in Dubrovnik.

To follow the latest sports news in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.


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