Regional Football League: Thoughts by the Croatian Clubs and Fan Groups

Daniela Rogulj

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Earlier this week, TCN introduced you to the potential of a “regional football league” (also known as the “Balkan league”) which is thus far supported by UEFA and has plans to begin in 2018. Dinamo Zagreb is not at all thrilled…

“Any official information on the preparation of such competitions we do not have, let alone of the alleged beginning in 2018, and all of the information that we have has come only from the media,” says Dinamo spokesman Alen Lesički on Vecernji List on 14 December 2016. He added that:


“We can only say that the priority of Dinamo is the Croatian league. A regional League, especially in this format which has been mentioned in the media with clubs exclusively from the former Yugoslavia, simply does not interest us.”


Hajduk Split claims that no one has contacted them about the regional league.


“We have not participated in any talks on a regional league, we have not been informed about it, and all of the information we have is learned from the media. There is no doubt that HNK Hajduk is against the renewal of any kind of ‘ex-Yugoslavia’ league, and our position on a broader regional competition will surely depend on the details of which are to us, and also the general public, still unknown. This is an issue that needs a much broader debate,” said Hajduk in a statement.


While some football associations and clubs see the regional league as a salvation of football in this region, fan groups of the teams are also not interested. Although they certainly would attract new encounters with rivals from other countries, the fan groups believe that their clubs may not play in such a league “because they fought for this for years.” reports on 14 December 2016 that the Dinamo Zagreb Bad Blue Boys had earlier said they are not interested in any league with teams from Serbia, Montenegro and Republika Srpska and that they will by all means fight against it. The attitude is the same today. “An Ex-Yu League is out of the question, we are interested only in Croatia,” said the fan group.


Torcida Split, the famous fan group of Hajduk, has also said their piece. “We fought with that country and now we should play together again. No way. We do not care to travel to Čačak and Niš,” said former Secretary of Torcida Stipe Lekić in a message from Torcida back in 2010, when talks first began about such a league.


Today we have the same attitude offered by the successor to Lekić, Damir Grujić:


”We are absolutely against any competition with teams from the former Yugoslavia. They say that this is rising the quality of football, and that it’s a good idea. It does not interest us. Because of all the events of the past, we do not want to be in any league with them.”


Armada, the fan group that monitors Rijeka, has also spoken out against the regional league in the past.


“The fans are absolutely against the regional league, there is no reason to go 20 years back, to repeat various scenes, and anyway, in between there was a war,” stated the attitude of Rijeka fans and the secretary of the Armada fanclub, Denis Povh.


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