April 29, 2020 – The Italian edition of Eurosport has dedicated its cover to Hajduk, which they describe as “a club that knew how to say no!”
“Split is the city that gave the most Olympians and Olympic medal winners per capita, a total of 74. Zeljko Jerkov, Duje Krstulovic, Toni Kukoc, Dino Radja, Goran Ivanisevic, Mario Ancic, Blanka Vlasic, Vladimir Beara, an endless array of water polo players,” reads the introduction as reported by Gol.hr.
“During the award for the best European goalkeeper, the legendary Lav Jašin said, ‘for me the best is Beara’. Beara was one of the best in the world, but he didn’t live in the era of television and his tricks went into stories first and then into legend. He did not lay down the live wall for free kicks because he wanted to see the rival. When he moved to Belgrade’s Red Star after three championships with Hajduk, many took his word for it. Why? Because Hajduk was not just a football team. We know you’ve read this phrase many times and you wonder why it would be different now.”
Eurosport further recalls the club’s founding and the fact that the club’s name was not chosen by chance, but because the Hajduks fought against the Ottoman army in the Balkans and defended the population against the Turks.
“Many say that the union between Hajduk and Split is the closest symbiosis between the team and the city that exists worldwide. There is graffiti on every corner, there are flags in almost every car, and the soul of the city itself is embodied by Bili, the nickname of Hajduk,” the Italian media points out, then recalling the most glorious moments of Hajduk’s past that took place outside the football pitch.
“The club, which was founded in the most anarchic city on the Croatian coast, could not obey the will of the regime, and therefore, during the Second World War, ‘no’ arrived from Hajduk twice, which echoed sensationally. After the fascists occupied Dalmatia, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) wanted Hajduk to play in the Italian Championship, but the players and management refused to do so and went to the island of Vis, which was controlled by the Allies. Shortly afterward, the request of the Ustasa regime, Ante Pavelic, to play in the Croatian league at that time was rejected.”
After the rejection of the Italians, Joseph Broz Tito soon received the same answer.
“After the end of World War II, Hajduk was no longer a symbol of the city, but a symbol of the entire country, so Marshal Tito wanted to move them to Belgrade to make Hajduk a club of the Yugoslav army. An honorable suggestion, but – to leave Split? Become a symbol of someone else? Hajduk said ‘no’ a second time and continued to grow and build its myth.”
Eurosport goes on to write about how Hajduk’s biggest rivals are Dinamo Zagreb, Red Star and Partizan, the founding of Torcida, the rivalry of fans with the Bad Blue Boys, the numerous class players that originated from Hajduk’s football school, and a crucial moment that happened ten years ago.
“The time had come for a big decision – to sell the club to foreign investors or to stay ours? Society, the city, and the fans had no dilemma: Hajduk is not for sale! This is how the third big ‘no’ from Hajduk arrived, the one aimed at foreign money. Fans were aware that because of this, they would not be able to compete for an important place in Europe, that it would be difficult even in the Championship against Dinamo. Still, pride is preserved,” Eurosport concluded.
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