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Ambassador of Croatia: Why are we so populous and so strong?
Croatia in the World Cup semi-finals by overtime 2:1 beat England, close to the final, will be a miracle, win the trophy. How does a country with a population of about 4000000 make such a strong footballer? Let‘s take a look at how the Croatia ambassador to China, Nebojsa Koharovic Neboj a Koharovi, answers the question to the Global Times English version.

In my five years in China, almost every Chinese friend has asked me a question: how does a country with more than 4 million points of eloquence have developed such an excellent footballer in less than 30 years of independence? So, when the English edition of the Global Times wrote about me about Croatia sports, especially football, I knew I had to question the question - "the population of Croatia is just as good as a district in Beijing. How did its football team be the top four in the world in 20 years?"

The answer to this question is complex. In the final analysis, it stems from Croatia‘s tradition of social traditions and values. In our tradition, it is hard to imagine young people not participating in a sport. This is especially true for boys.

So how does this mode of thinking come from? Is it from our traditional competitive history that began in the Middle Ages? Or is it because our nation has been forced to defend its territory for a long time to develop a strong body culture? Sociologists and historians are still debating this issue. It is also believed that this is due to the aesthetic standards of the Mediterranean region, which considers appearance more important than anything else. Apart from participating in sports, what else can bring a person‘s bodybuilding appearance?

The success of Croatia people in some kinds of sports is also related to our social traditions and cultural habits. Croatia people are better at playing sports, such as football, basketball, handball, water polo, tennis and other ball games, rather than gymnastics, which requires more perseverance and exercise. We like to play on the spot, enjoy the game, defeat the opponent, and at the same time bring pleasure to the audience and themselves. This joy is deeply rooted in southern European civilization and Mediterranean culture.

Our view of football is very different from that of Nordic people. It is also different from Chinese Confucian values. We enjoy life and entertainment, improvise and delight ourselves in the process. We never regard sports as an achievement or a responsibility. That‘s why our football matches closer to Latin American football than Nordic football. Northern European football may be more concerned about the outcome of the game than the charm of passion, technology and competition.

All these social and historical factors determine why we play football in Croatia and how we enjoy football.
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In contemporary Croatia, there are two fundamental reasons for the successful development of young athletes, especially football players. First, it may be generally believed that spending time in football or other sports in China is not conducive to achieving other educational goals, but we do not think so. We believe that other areas of sports and education are complementary and jointly promote the development of young people. All parents in Croatia want their children to balance their day‘s study and physical exercise. A child who is too addicted to books may be laughed at by his peers, and every responsible parent will want to avoid this. Sport is an important part of training young people. Families, schools and sports colleges all advocate more exercise.

Second, sports and football are important social topics. These topics have led to media coverage, which is of great social significance. In Croatia, it is often said that there are three topics that are considered polite in men‘s conversation: politics, women, and of course football. There is an old joke that there are only three important things in the world: disease, war and football. Compared with China, Croatia has a higher degree of concern for sports, which can be reflected from the attention of education and society. Football has brought to Croatia something that has not been imagined before 30 years ago. Football has become one of our most distinctive national characteristics. The red and white checked shirt has become an important symbol of our country. The series of victories made by the national football team has made them the most outstanding ambassadors of Croatia culture. Their influence is large enough to make soccer a major brand outside the tourism industry.

Shortly after we became an independent country, the Croatia national team achieved good results in the 1998 World Cup in France. The performance of the national team attracted the attention of the world, which we needed very much at that time. It has made us known as a small and brave country by the world. Vatreni (the son of fire) is our nickname of the national team in 1998, showing the hot hearts of the players fighting for the nation and the country. From that competition, they have become the symbol of national pride and solidarity and have been maintained. Maybe many old Chinese fans still remember the names of our first generation "golden players": Suker, Boban (Boban), Prosinecki (Prosinecki), Bilic, Jarni, Boksic (Boksic), Radic (Ladic) and coach Ciro Blazevic (Ciro Blazevic).

In the twenty years since the 1998 World Cup in France, we have had such excellent talents as coach Ciro Blazevic, but until this 2018 Russian World Cup, we did not achieve the same results as that of the time. The golden players of this generation: Modri (Modric), Rakiti (Rakitic), Manju Kikki (Mandzukic), Perisic (Perisic), Lovren (Lovren), Subasic (Subasic), and they have the last chance to create radiography on Russian courts. They have a style and style. Croatia‘s support from all over the country has enhanced our popularity in the world. This time, they are expected to reach the high point!

Nebojsa Koharovic, Ambassador of Croatia to China
 
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