Introducing Predrag Šustar – Croatian Minister of Science Education and Sports

Total Croatia News

Mr. Šustar appeared in the popular political talk show on Croatian Radio Television, presenting his views on Science, Education, and Sport

On Sunday, February 28, 2016, at 2 pm, Croatian sports lovers were anxiously waiting for the popular talk show Nedjeljom u 2 to start, because it was the first time the minister of the sport would publically present his plans for Croatian sport. Especially since his deputies for science and education have already been appointed but the one for the sport hasn’t even been nominated.

For a start, it was refreshing to see a really competent person talking about science and education, as Mr. Šustar has a vast scientific background, and came to this position as the Dean of one of the most important Faculties at Rijeka University. After everything we’ve heard and witnessed over the last few weeks in terms of statements from our Ministers, it was a much needed and welcomed change. He was eloquent, tolerant, even speaking critically about his own party, an endemic event on the Croatian political scene.

Photo by HRT Nedjeljom u 2

While talking about science, one could see he was on home turf, not avoiding questions, having very competent opinions about all the subjects mentioned. With the host trying to provoke him with some tricky questions, he was calm, and his knowledge prevailed, all in all, I was preparing this editorial to be a bit of praise for him and also for the ruling coalition for picking such a man to head the ministry of such importance. I would have kept that opinion if I had to only evaluate two-thirds of his TV appearance.

Unfortunately, when it came to sport, this eloquent politician switched on his party soldier mode. He was avoiding questions, and obviously repeating answers given to him by his advisers that would love for the status quo in Croatian sport to last as long as possible. So he simply discarded the new amendments to the Sports Act which were approved by the last Parliament and came into power this month. He repeated the words of highly ranked HDZ officials, claiming it was voted solely for the purpose of one man to be excluded from sport, and that the amendments were voted on without previous discussion.

This was not very scientific of him, because if he only spent a few minutes googling these amendments, he would have discovered that months of research were poured into them, including several panels in his own ministry, and finally a very lengthy discussion by the parliament members preceding the vote.

This was disappointing, but, I thought to myself, I will give the new minister the benefit of the doubt, hoping he will be better informed in the future and that he won’t just keep repeating the words of his advisers since he still didn’t say anything alarming. But then, he dropped a bomb, freezing all Croatian sports fans dead in their tracks when he named Hungarian sport as a shining example which Croatian sports authorities should look up to.

I had to press the pause button on my remote and rewind the track again, as I could not believe what I just heard. This eloquent, tolerant man wants to follow Viktor Orban’s bright example of managing of sport, football particularly? For those of you who are not following this subject, Orban used public money to ensure a 12 M euro priced stadium to be built in the village where he was born. He has distributed football clubs to his closest friends, tycoons close to his party, tycoons that acquired their vast fortunes dealing solely with the government even though they were mere simple entrepreneurs before their sudden business expansion and their only qualifications being that they were Orban’s close friends.

Mega stadium in Orban’s village

One can only hope that Mr. Šustar will be smart and independent enough to research this matter on his own, not relying on the people from the system, since the system and the people in it are the biggest problem in Croatian sport. After all, he said that he will hold auditions for his deputy minister in charge of sports very soon. His final choice (hoping it will really be his choice) will give us an exact idea of the direction Croatian sport will take in the future. 


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