Largest European Football Competition Ever in Croatia to Begin

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“Croatia was selected among five candidate countries, out entire team is itching to get it under way”

Next Wednesday, Croatia and Italy will square off on Rujevica stadium in Rijeka to open the European Cadet Championship, the largest football competition ever organised by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS). The Euro U-17 has 16 teams and although it is not like the senior one, especially in financial parameters, it is still hefty: two million euros from UEFA and another half a million to a million euros from HNS. It would be beneficial for selector Darijo Bašić’s team to make use of the home fields, although the draw was not favourable, and get some payback for investments and effort, Jutarnji List reported on April 30, 2017.

“Croatia was the Regions Cup host in 2009, then in 2012 the host of the Futsal Euro, which was already a big competition, and this now, considering 16 nations are taking part, is the pinnacle for our country,” said Romeo Jozak, director of the tournament which ends on May 19.

“Croatia was selected among five candidate countries, out entire team is itching to get it under way,” he added. HNS has mobilised practically all of its forces: 35-40 employees of HNS are directly involved, with around 200 people working on the project.

“We hired around a hundred people as associates, with a large number of volunteers. UEFA provides a fixed sum for the hosting, which is fine, but very often it is not enough since we aim to offer a high level of performance, which is why the Federation has additional costs, with the precise number known at the end of the championship. The best example is Varaždin stadium, which will host four games; if it wasn’t for the Euro, it would not be revitalised. Now HNS will hold the Croatia Cup finals there. Varaždin now has a licence and will be used for future competitions and matches. HNS has invested in infrastructure and that will remain for Croatian football.”

Croatia will be in focus during the tournament, with an expected onslaught of club scouts and managers…

“The finals will be attended by UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin, who will award the trophy to winners, as Michel Platini always used to do. All directors and representatives of FIFA will also be there. Logically that should include Zvonimir Boban, our President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović is coming as well as Ministers, Varaždin will be the centre of the football world that day.”

Many children will also be in the stands, HNS took action in schools and host towns for the stadiums to be full. Which is not cheap at all as five thousand children will be brought to Rujevica, costing 200.000 kuna in transportation for one match.

“We had meetings in the Education Ministry to deal with joint education on cheering. A document has been created on how to behave on stands, for the pupils to understand how to enjoy football and cheer. Rujevica stadium should be full for the opening on Wednesday, as well as other Croatian games and the final.”

The free transportation of children will cost in total 300.000 euro. Host cities are Rijeka, Zagreb with environs and Varaždin. Pula was also in the first plan, but it had to be dropped as it could not guarantee two perfect pitches.

Jozak said the Organisation Committee, led by project manager Josip Tomaško, already deserves to be praised.

“I absolutely praise those people as for six months they have been working daily for everything to be up to standards, with safety also quite important.”

Some of the matches will be televised by Eurosport, with the Croatian Football Television covering Croatia.


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