Marko Livaja Leaves Croatia National Team

Daniela Rogulj

Photo by Slobodan Kadic

October 8, 2023 – Hajduk Split player Marko Livaja has said goodbye to the Croatia national team with an emotional post on Instagram.

“After much thought, I decided to leave the Croatia national team, about which I informed the Croatian Football Federation before this announcement. I am grateful to the coaches and staff for my time spent on the national team and recognition as a player, and I will always hold a special place in my heart for the bronze medal in Qatar and the atmosphere that reigned among my teammates, as well as the joy in the entire country and diaspora that reigned because of our great success. I am proud of every performance for my homeland, and I would like the focus and positivity to be directed towards the players, I hope that they will welcome the upcoming important matches in peace and without tension. Thank you all for your support, and I sincerely wish the national team happiness and success now and in the future,” wrote Marko Livaja on his Instagram.

From 2008 to 2014, Livaja played a total of 54 times and scored 24 goals for all of Croatia’s youth teams, ages 15 to 21 years old. On August 20, 2018, due to excellent play for AEK Athens, Zlatko Dalić called up Livaja to the national team for the first time for a friendly match against Portugal (1:1) and the UEFA Nations League clash against Spain, which ended the biggest defeat in Croatia’s history (0:6).

On November 9, 2022, Dalić included Livaja in the list of players for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. At that World Cup, Livaja scored in the match against Canada, which ended with Croatia winning 4:1. With that goal, Livaja became the first Hajduk player to score for Croatia at the World Cup.

But the Hajduk player could not escape scandal. After the Croatian Cup final in Rijeka against Šibenik last season, Livaja offended Šibenik fans with a song. In June, Livaja left Croatia’s preparations for the Nations League Finals after an incident at the national team training in Rijeka. Croatia’s training was briefly interrupted after Livaja headed towards the stands in a verbal argument with fans who continued to insult him during training. Livaja was not wholly supported during or after the incident and left Rijeka the next day.

Dalić did not call up Livaja for the two qualifiers in September when Croatia played in Rijeka against Latvia (5:0) and away against Armenia (1:0), citing that he wanted tensions to calm around the player (especially playing in Rijeka) but that the invitation was always open to Marko. Dalić did, however, invite Livaja for the upcoming EURO qualifiers against Turkey and Wales. It’s also important to note that just a few days before Rijeka and Hajduk met at Rujevica stadium for the 11th round of the Croatian League, Rijeka was plastered with ‘Umri Livaja’ (Die Livaja) posters by the local fan group Armada.

Livaja exiting the national team is not surprising, as the Hajduk player continues to be discriminated against around Croatia. It is unfortunate for Dalić who is now not only without Livaja, but attackers Bruno Petković, Andrej Kramarić, and Ivan Perišić due to injuries.


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