A small group of Hajduk Split hooligans caused damage after attacking a delegation of the Croatian football Federation.
This attack has raised questions about the safety of footballers visiting the country. National team manager Niko Kovac has condemned the attacks saying that this places a lot of negativity upon Croatian football as a whole. Since qualifying for the Euro 2008 by beating England, Croatia have been on a high. This has gone down of late due to infighting and poor form shown by the national team itself. Even though none were injured in the attack, it has raised the possibility of future delegations being cancelled.
Kovac says the attackers should have a moral responsibility to help the country as a whole. He has refused to take the limelight for criticising the incident in a public manner. Croatia have been enjoying a good run of form of late on the pitch. Apart from the friendly defeat against Argentina, they have had excellent results particularly in the 1-1 draw with Italy back in November. Their team continued to build on the strong performance in the qualifying by getting a thumping 5-1 success over Norway to go top of their group. Croatia now have 13 points and a two-point advantage over second placed Italy.
“There were about 10 of them, all with Hajduk scarves, jerseys… I’ve spoken to them, they were coming back from Hajduk’s friendly match in Rovinj. I tried to calm things down, communicated as much as I could. It wasn’t simple. Niksa got punched, our car was damaged. I told them to calm down, that I didn’t see a reason to fight. We wanted to have a coffee or sandwich with them. They kept provoking us, we stayed calm.This is not about Niko Kovac. I look at myself as a Croatian citizen,” said Kovac.