July 30, 2020 – Last week, the HNS Executive Board concluded a long-running saga about the Junior Champions League at a session of the Executive Board. They decided that the Dinamo juniors would go to the elite competition, even though Hajduk was in first place at the time the Junior First HNL was suspended. Hajduk had two more points than the second-placed Dinamo at the time, though Dinamo had played one game less.
Namely, when the junior championship was interrupted in March due to the coronavirus epidemic, Hajduk had 42 points, but also a game more than Dinamo, which collected 40 points. The Blues did not manage to play the match against Dugopolje before the break.
This caused a rift between Dinamo and Hajduk, a match was proposed, and the HNS Competition Commission sought advice from UEFA and sent a proposal to the Executive Board that the Zagreb club goes to the Champions League next season based on a better average of points played this season.
UEFA did not respond to the HNS inquiry, so the bodies of the Federation proposed that Dinamo go to the junior Champions League. The proposal was accepted.
At the time of the break, the Hajduk team had 42 points in 17 games played (2.47 points per game), and the Dinamo team had 40 points in 16 games played (2.5 points per game). HNS clarified the decision with the opinion of UEFA, which stated earlier in the letter that other countries that were in similar situations used the method of the ratio of points won and rounds played, i.e., coefficients.
Hajduk responded to the decision on Thursday:
“We are witnessing another farce directed by the Croatian Football Federation, which this time attacked our juniors, and whose decision was confirmed today by the HNS Arbitration Court. Unfortunately, we did not expect a different decision from the Federation, and HNS once again showed its true face, despite stories and promises of change and transparency by the Federation and its executive director Marijan Kustic. Decisions are always made in the interest of one and the same club. We are sending a beautiful message to our future generations.
Apart from the introduction of VAR, we have not seen any significant changes and shifts in the development of Croatian football, let alone the fulfillment of demands made by HNK Hajduk, which were presented for more righteous and fairer relations for all clubs, not just Hajduk. We can’t help but ask ourselves and use the quote of the legendary captain Frane Matosic to the FSJ: “Do you have at least a gram of honesty here?”
Mr. Kustic has, on several occasions, denied himself on the topic of the junior champion, so we have attached his statements to the entire public over the last three months, which speak more than anything about the functioning of the Croatian Football Federation, but also the people who represent it.
1. “Let’s go step by step. We are waiting for the commissioner’s report and then we will make a final decision. If you ask me personally, I am always that such things are handled on the pitch, not administratively.” – Dnevnik Nova TV, May 6, 2020
2. “The decision has so far been made as it is, I have said that I am in favor of resolving this on the pitch, but because of various decisions, we have made a decision according to the principle used in Europe.” – Dnevnik Nova TV, July 23, 2020
– HNS’s response to the lawsuit to the Arbitration Court, July 28, 2020
The competition commission, composed of Ante Vucemilovic-Simunovic, Neven Sprajcer, Zeljko Mihalj, Pero Vican, Ivan Novak, Ivan Peraic, Bozidar Sikic and Zeljko Bel, proposed to the HNS Executive Board that according to the only criterion in favor of GNK Dinamo (average coefficient) points won with regard to the number of matches played), which is also debatable, send a proposal to UEFA that the Zagreb club represents Croatian football in the junior Champions League. Let us remind you once again, Neven Sprajcer is a final convict in the “fair trial” affair. Transparent and fair, above all, in line with the HNS’s predictable actions so far.
In its statement, HNS listed the leagues and federations that decided in favor of GNK Dinamo, ignoring other federations and leagues in which this criterion was not taken in terms of decision-making. Such an argument is completely missed for several reasons, primarily because it is completely irrelevant what decisions were made in other leagues, which, indisputably, have their own special regulations different from the regulations of the HNS (including a separate organization of first league clubs) and in particular since such a criterion in cases in those countries did not deprive any of the clubs covered by those decisions of the right to participate in UEFA club competitions. All the more so, as there are many other federations/leagues in which such a criterion has not been used to decide on the right to participate in UEFA club competitions.
On this occasion, we clearly articulate once again the arguments that make it quite clear that the decision of the HNS Executive Board is contrary to the opinion of Uefa, which has continuously, in all its instructions to national football federations, stressed the need “to determine places in European competitions by results and that decisions should be based on objective, transparent criteria without discrimination.”
1. At the time of the suspension of the First HNL Championship for juniors, Hajduk was in first place with a game more and two points more than Dinamo.
2. Hajduk’s juniors were first at the end of the mid-season,
3. In the only direct clash this season, Hajduk beat Dinamo 1:0
4. Hajduk had a total of 11 goals better than the second-placed Dinamo.
5. At the time of the break of the First HNL for juniors, Hajduk played 17 games, of which 9 home and 8 away games, while Dinamo played 16 games, of which as many as 10 home games and only 6 away games. So, if the Federation applied the same coefficient method separately for domestic and away matches of clubs (which it obviously should have done given the determined disproportion of played domestic and away matches of clubs) Hajduk would have achieved a coefficient of 3 points for domestic matches and a coefficient of 2.12 for away matches, while Dinamo would achieve a coefficient of 3 points for domestic matches and a coefficient of 1.67 for away matches, which would mean that the junior team of Hajduk has a total coefficient of 2.56 (5.12:2), and the junior team of Dinamo has a total coefficient 2.33 (4.67:2).
You can judge for yourself whether the decision of the Federation is objective and with transparent criteria without discrimination, considering all the arguments we have stated.
Following all the above, we will consider whether our juniors will play in the First HNL competition for juniors in the 2020/21 season, because it is obvious that Croatian football can only be represented by one club in the Junior Champions League. We all remember the situation from 2015, when the juniors of RNK Split won the championship, and in that situation, the Federation enabled Dinamo to participate in the UEFA Youth League through legal stunts.
HNK Hajduk will take and use all legal steps and opportunities to protect their children who, by diligent work on the pitch, have earned something that is taken away from them in the HNS offices. We repeat, the Club maintains that playing the so-called “Masters” was the best and fairest solution, and which would ultimately satisfy the basic principle in choosing the right to play in the UEFA club competition, the principle of sports results.”
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