HNS Responds to New Tension with Hajduk after Croatian Cup Final for Pioneers

Daniela Rogulj

The Hajduk pioneers lost to Osijek in the Croatian Cup final last Tuesday, though it didn’t go without sharp criticism from Hajduk against referee Ante Čuljak and his assistants.

Namely, Čuljak distributed 11 yellow cards during the game, in which Hajduk lost 3:2. And even worse – Čuljak excluded two Hajduk players with red cards. 

The aftermath saw the exchange of several nasty words and the further critique of HNS.

An outraged Hajduk released the following statement

“Once again, the entire Croatian public has had a chance to see, through direct television broadcast, why HNK Hajduk insists on systematic and rooted changes in the referee organization.

Unfortunately, this time we have to respond because of the Croatian Cup final for the pioneers, where Hajduk lost to Osijek 3:2. In this meeting, referee Ante Čuljak from Zagreb distributed a total of 11 yellow cards and unjustifiably excluded two Hajduk players.

We ask the referees responsible what this message sends to children, our youngest, to those who represent the future of Croatian football and society. Is this a fairer football system and a more honest society we are fighting for? Or just the opposite? Would you like them to see that from their little legs, this has become almost common on Croatian football pitches? And this is not just a picture of injustices in senior football, but we have been witnessing a lot of absurd situations and decisions in meetings of all younger age categories lately. 

The tears of children after suffering injustice are our duty, our responsibility and the responsibility to fight harder and continue the way we started.”

Hajduk fan group Torcida invited fans to welcome Hajduk’s juniors back to Split and sent a sharp message to HNS.

“We do not forgive the tears of our children,” said Torcida. You can see their outstanding reception for the pioneers at Poljud below.

Thus, new tensions formed between HNS and Hajduk this week. The Federation has finally responded to Hajduk and the media, which you can find transmitted below. 

“Football is the most popular sport in the world, among other things, because of the high emotions it causes. As it’s nice to win, it is difficult to lose. It is understandable, therefore, that Hajduk’s young footballers cried tears after losing to Osijek in the final of the Croatian Cup, as it is understandable that the Croatian A team cried tears in the defeat of the World Cup final. Moreover, all of us who are parents are particularly sensitive to our children, and we are proud of their successes.

However, we sincerely believe that it is not necessary to raise tensions nor to emphasise the refereeing in the first place because we do not do a service to the young footballers and football in general.

The Croatian Football Federation is open to any club to submit comments or suggestions to improve any area of HNS’s activities through the democratic forums of the Federation.

The current leadership of the Federation continually invites dialogue and communication as the only way for a quality relationship and will continue to insist on it. Only in the interest of Croatian football can we continue to achieve international results.

The fact that HNS is a regional leader in the implementation of VAR suffices to show that the Federation is devoted to progress in that segment of its action. However, we do not consider that the verbal attack on any referee individually is the right path to progress, as this is a terrifying pressure on referees who must be independent, and in public, it creates a bad picture of Croatian football.

We believe that this is true even in cases where the decisions are wrong because each referee makes mistakes (and accordingly), especially in this case where independent experts have confirmed the justification of the referee’s decisions.

The Croatian Football Federation is absolutely committed to establishing a dialogue and a good-natured, constructive and quality relationship with each club in Croatia. We hope the same in turn.”

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