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Saturday, 11 October 2008


Those who had watched the recent Turkey-Bosnia match which was played in İstanbul may remember: Bosnian players “acting” like playing, apparently without any wish to struggle, and Turkey scoring only one goal without any intention to afflict Bosnians. The headline of the Hungarian newspapers was; “ETERNAL BROTHERHOOD” referring to the antipathic “Scandinavian brotherhood”.

The 1-0 result was the best for both Bosnians and Turks. Turkey had managed to go for EURO 2008 and it was a resonable defeat for Bosnians, against Turkey in İstanbul hell. All of the Bosnians that I have talked in Sarajevo were confident about the result fort hey did not avoid Turkey’s involvement in EURO 2008, and 0-1 was not an ashameful result.

C’est la vie! Turkey is again in the same group with Bosnia for FIFA 2010 and the first match will be played in Turkey. But, will Bosnians act like playing again?

Being one of the important inheritor of Yugoslav football ecolé, Bosnia could not managed to succed in football since the war. The most evident reason behind this is the lack of normalization of the relations between the ethnic groups in Bosnia since Dayton Peace Agreement in 1995. It has got its reflections in the sphere of football as well. Each football team in Bosnian league represent one of the ethnic groups. The balance is very fragile. In a way, there is an unwritten rule of rotation system: If one year a Bosnian Serb team is champion, then the next year is Bosnian Croat team, and the next year is the turn for a Bosnian Muslim team. Lack of disintegration does not only decresases the level of quality of football in Bosnian league, but also it negatively effects the national football team.

However, there is even a more dramatical problem: Corruption. N/FSBiH (Nogometni/Fudbalski Savez Bosne i Hercegovine - Football Union of Bosnia and Herzegovina, shıortly recalled “Savez” by fans) is recognized as a haven. This is has been subject of many protests in Bosnia. We can even argue that, protest demonstrations against Savez may be called as the most serious opposition protest movement in Sarajevo. Graffitis against Savez can be seen everywhere in the country. Bosnians fans became famous by halting the matches of Bosnian national team by their protests.

This situation end up with a negative stand of Bosnian players towards playing in the Bosnian national football team. Those Bosnian players who play in West European football leagues boycott the national team. The reason behind this is the told to be bribery which is asked from players to play in the national squad. Bosnian national squad, which started the group matches for EURO 2008 like a thunder did not have any success except a victory over Norway in Oslo and over Turkey in Sarajevo.
However, recently in July 2008 some changes had happened in Bosnia.

The ex-trainer Fuad Muzurovic who is a recognized feature by Turkish fans since he had been training Adanademirspor in 1987-1990 and Adanaspor in 1998-1999 was found to be guilty because of the results. After Muzurovic, Meho Kodro, 41 years old, who had a succesful career in football as a player in teams like Barcelona, Deportivo, Vitoria but surely inexperienced as a trainer became the new boss of Bosnian national squad. After some problems with the Savez, he also had to leave his job. Bosnia was shaked by a news in July 10. Miroslav Blazevic, nicknamed as “Ciro” (spelled as “cheero”) would be training the national squad for the group matches of FIFA 2010!

Being 73 years old, Ciro is a member of “grandfather” ecolé in football. In many occasions, he remarks that he had not been a brilliant player when he was playing football. That is why he started his training career in an early age. When he was 33, he started to train FC Vevey in Switzerland and then in Sion and Lausanne. Then he found himself as sub-trainer of Swiss national squad.

He returned back to his homeland Yugoslavia to train Dinamo Zagreb. In the third season Dinamo managed to be the champion, which was their first after 24 years, making Ciro a hero. Increasing political tension in Yugoslavia had its effects on Ciro’s career as well. He trained different teams in Yugoslavia and Europe like PAOK, Grasshopers, Pristina, Nantes. He was sacked from Nantes when it was understood that he was involved in bribery, which implied the end of his career.

Spending time with the political figures of those years, Ciro was supporting the Croat nationalist leader Franjo Tudjman and he was assigned as trainer and general manager of Tudjman backed Dinamo Zagreb. With the championship in 1993, Croatian Cup in 1994, Ciro proved his quality again and was assigned to be the trainer of the Croatian national squad.

Ciro Era is recognized as the ever best period of Croatian national squad. They involved in EURO 96 in England with considerable succesful results. But, the real sansational success came 2 years after in FIFA 98 in France: Croatia, having sympathy of every football lover with their interesting red-white-squared jerseys became the 3rd in the toyurnament. But, this success did not bring luck for Ciro. He beganm to travel from that team to this team again. First Iran national squad, than Dinamo Zagreb. After being assigned to be trainer for Hajduk Split -fatal rival of Dinamo Zagreb- the man of sansations became subject of hatred of both sides. The 8-0 aggragate defeat of Hajduk against Hungarian Debrecen was the end of his career in Split, and was even marking the end of his career. When he was working on permanent contracts with different small clubs, he was surprisingly ask for a contract. Ciro who was born in Travnik, a city in Bosnia, was recalled by hiss homeland. He accepted.


The first thing Ciro wanted to do in the team was to establish unity. He contacted with those players who refused to play in national squad. The new trainer brought a new atmosphere and 7-0 victory over Estonia did not only motivated players but also Bosnians who were hopeless about national squad previously. Bosnians became more interested in national team since there was a new trainer who was popular and known to be a successful one.
Moreover, bing a Bosnian Croat, Ciro has a potential to be figure of unity in Bosnia-Herzegovina. For example, in summer 2007 Bosnia played a friendly game against Croatia in Sarajevo. During this match, the fans of Croatia were mostly Bosnian Croats and a considerable part of did come from Travnik, homeland of Ciro. Now, it is expected that not only Bosnian Croats’ but also Bosnian Serbs’ attitude towards the national squad will change positively.

3-5-2 and CIRO
Ciro’s game tactics are not alien to those who knows Yugoslav style. Basically, it requires keeping the ball in mid-field with technical capabilities and short passes, if they loose the ball they do Yugoslav faul –a type of technical faul aiming to stop rival’s attack at the very beginning of the attack. They wait for rival to offend them, and look for open spaces in the rival field. When they see that, with long balls and fast winders they attack quickly.

The expected squad to play against Turkey is:
Goal keeper:
Kenan Hasagiç (İstanbul BB)
Emir Spahiç (Lokomotif Moskva)
Saşa Papats (Glasgow Rangers)
Cemal Berberoviç (Litex),
Elvir Rahimiç (CSKA Moskva)
Zvjezdan Misimoviç (Wolfsburg),
Senijad Ibriçiç (Hajduk Split)
Miralem Pjaniç (Lion)
Samir Muratoviç (Sturm Graz).
Zlatan Muslimoviç (PAOK)
Edin Ceko (Wolfsburg)
Goran Brašnić (Inter Zagreb)
Safet Nadarević (Eskişehirspor)
Ivan Radeljiç (Energie Kotbus)
Adnan Mravats (Materzburg)
Dario Damjanoviç (Luch Energija)
Sejad Salihoviç (Hoffenheim)
Mladen Bartoloviç (Hajduk Split)
Vedad İbişeviç (Hoffenheim)
Admir Vladaviç (Žilina Bratislava)

Ciro made an interview with journalists in Sarajevo on October 7 and said that no one can stop them if they will be on their day. He told that, last week he watched some of his players who are playing in the football leagues of different countries. He told that, as far as he observed all of his players are in good form and he is very happy because of that.

He expressed that especially Misimoviç and Muslimoviç are at the peak of their performance. But he is just a little bir afraid of injuries. It will be certain for Muslimovic –Wolfsburg’s star player- whether if he will play or not,, only in the last day.

Ciro, emphasizing the fact that Bosnian squad is in a family atmosphere which had never been observed before until know, said that the forward players are at the peak of their form, but the only problem may be in defence. He added that he trusts their captain Spahiç. Spahiç has also got some minor injuries, which will not avoid him to play in İstanbul. He recalls his captain as “maj od Bosne – The Dragon of Bosnia”. As it is known, “Zmaj od Bosne” was the nick name of Kapetan Gradaşçeviç who leaded the uprising against Turks in 1831 in Bosnia.

Bosnian squad came to İstanbul on Friday night (October 10)


According to Bosnian Football Federation, 400 tickets of 1600 reserved for Bosnian fansa re sold. Most of those fans will benefit from Istanbul’s fantastic autumn and watch the match at the same time. Azra and Emir Bektasagic are two of them. They want to use this opportunity for a second honeymoon at the 11th anniversary of their marriage. Azra was in London during the war and she says her best friends were Turks in London and Turkey had always had a special place in her hearth. She says that her elder son learns Turkish and positive emotions towards Turks is valid for every Bosnian, and she adds “But we come to Turkey to beat you on the field!”. Azra admits that every Bosnian is excited about the match and says that the match will be like a match between two brothers, and they will not be sorry for a defeat, but she summarizes the situation: “Everybody would like to defeat his brother!”. Azra and Emir say that Bosnia had lived through difficult years since the war and they need successes in that kind of areas, that is why Bosnians need that victory more than Turks.

It is very common to see jerseys of Turkish football teams in Bosnian stadiums. Bosnian fans frequently select jerseys of Turkish teams which is closer to their team’s colors. Last summer, I saw one of the fans of Sarajevo having scarf of “Boluspor” who plays in the second division of Turkey. Bosnians do also enjoy to celebrate victories of Turkish national squad. After every important victory of Turkey, the old city center of Sarajevo “Başçarşı” resembles the city center of Istanbul. Ciro warns Bosnians who have a tendency to wear Turkish jerseys or scarfs in their own national matches: “We are playing against Turkey. Please just only wear colors of Bosnia”.

Around 50 members of BH Fanaticos – the fan group of Bosnian national team will be watching the match as well. They ague that the match is important fort hem and they will feel themselves like they are in thier second homeland: “Turkey is our second home. So, the match will be like a game between two brothers. But, we will be the winning side.”.

Monday, 23 June 2008


After the EURO 2008 quarter-final match between Turkey and Croatia, street fights are reported from Bosnian cities of mixed Bosnian Croat and Bosnian Muslim communities where 27 were injured and 33 taken under custody according to Bosnian daily newspaper Dnevni Avaz.


Fan riot occurred last night after the match between Turkey – Croatia. 16 policemen injured….

Public relation Officer at the Ministry of Internal affairs Srećko Bošnjak said that initial disorder started at two sites, prior at Square Rondo, where football fans of Croatian representation gathered. Just after the match tear gas was thrown at the members of police and fans attempted to go to Spanish Square (Španski trg).

At Square Musala football fans of Turkish representation started disorder as well, trying to reach Spanish Square too.

"Police tried to prevent fan groups to confront and pushed back both of them in different directions. We can say that around 2000 people from both sides participated it", said Bošnjak.

He also said that police had to use force, tear gas and combat vehicle in order to repress masses.

At Mostar locality 16 policemen and four fans are injured, four police vehicles and one special combat vehicle of police are damaged, and major material damage has been done. 16 persons are arrested. There were two attempts of direct car attacks at police officers. Both cases are documented; attackers are identified and will be processed.


At locality of Čapljina one policeman is injured, and five persons are arrested while at locality of Stolac three policemen are injured and eight persons arrested.

Nine citizen's vehicles are damaged in Neum, while in Čitluk four persons are arrested.


Two persons injured in disoder.

Upon the end of the match between Turkey and Croatia in the center of Žepče public order occurred

Two persons suffer ailment bodily injuries, but police refuse to precise whether injured persons are Bosniak or Croat nationality.

"Around 11:15 pm in the center of Žepče, group of app 200 fans of representation of Croatia gathered. At that moment convoy of twenty cars of Turkish representation supporters came across. Disturbance of public order occurred. Six citizen's cars have been damaged (three own by Croats and three own by Bosniaks)", duty operating Officer at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Zenica – Doboj Canton declared.

Stones and hard objects were used during disorder, and police of Žepče and Resource units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Zenica – Doboj Canton reacted.

No other incidents were recorded on Friday evening in the other municipalities of Zenica – Doboj Canton.

On the other side, it has been observed that some Bosnians had celebrated victory of Turkey in Bosnian cities like Sarajevo, Tuzlaü, Zenica by sirens in car convoys and flambeaux in city centers.

During the match 3 people had died because of heart attack in Turkey, where 27 were wounded by the bullets after the match. It has been reported that those incidences do not have any relation with the Croat-Bosniak conflict. (!)

(Translated by: Lejla Gotovuša)

Translated and piled from original articles:

Saturday, 21 June 2008


(From Slobodna Dalmacija, Croatian national daily newspaper)

After the defeat Croatian coach Slaven Bilić sadly faced seat in front of the journalists.

- The match was good and congratulations to all participants. It was a game with incredible ending that can happen only in football. In 120 minutes we had more clear chances, and they had their pressure that was lasted from time to time. They were not indifferent, but I think that we were much better rival. It is not possible to describe the last two minutes and we will be hunted by it for the rest of our lives – Bilić started his story.

How did you experience stressful penalties?

- Penalties are lottery. I am proud of my players and there is nothing I can object to them at all. But we are sad and unhappy because we thought that with this team we can go up to the end. We haven't deserved to loose.

With such a little time after Klasnić gained the goal it did not occur nobody's mind that Turks can return.

- It was not in my mind that we will receive a goal, but pressure from their side was expected. After the first minute we had kept the ball, we started the counter-attack that ended in hinterland. Ball bounced to ninth and it ended the way it ended – Bilić remembered.

Received goal was wind in the back for Croatian rival just before execution of the strike eleven meters away.

- To accede the penalties after it looked that it was over was shocking. Turks were in physiological head start. I do not know what was players had in their minds, but I am sure that they were rewinding the received goal. In two minutes before execution of the penalty everybody were talking about that goal - said Bilić.

Everybody was under the stress since the best player, in 120 minutes, Luka Modrić missed the first penalty already.

- Luka was awesome and he did not deserve to miss the penalty. By the way, during the whole tournament he was masterful. Honestly, not any player either ours or Turkish did not deserve to miss. And Turks? It is already the third match they are wining in extreme way and if the luck and persistence will follow them during the match with Germany, it is likely possible that they will enter the finals. It is obvious that besides quality there is something more that pushes them forward, something that matches for them. They are handicapped, they have one day lass for resting, and physically they exhausted themselves in the second game. With lots of wounded it will be difficult. May be some of them will return. I know that Turks will not give up until the end.

There is World Championship ahead of Croatia.

- It is not easy to forget this and move forward. This is not match that is playing weekly. The way we lost is difficult. This is impossible to forget. On the other side, we have to move forward, we have young team, and qualifications for the World championship are in front of the door. But tomorrow will be a new day and the sun will shine. My players have terrific character, we will return even bigger.

Bilić mentioned extension of extension.

The referee prolongs for two minutes, and we thought that is was over. It is specific situation when minutes are flying away for them and dragging for us. We tried two – three times to make a switch, the player was ready. I do not know why he did not allow us. But we are not making excuse on referee, it was not his fault. If he played the end, Turks would be attacked by Turks.

What did players say?

Luka Modrić came with red eyes, and he was not hiding that he was crying:

- This is a great sorrow and disappointment, with the goal in the last second Turkey bitted us psychologically. Well, how can I know would it be different if it was 0:0, who would know it now? The truth is that after the goal we were nervous about penalties, in two minutes we saw ourselves in semi-finals, and it would the fair because we played good and we had much more chances.

Dario Šimić:

- I am in sock. In 119th minute I saw us in semi-finals. A minute later I couldn't believe what was happening. I have never experienced something like this. It was difficult to suffer this in change room, especially for young players.

Stipe Pletikosa:

- What to say? I still cannot believe that this is happening. Is there in the world a team that scores goals in the last minutes in three matches at row?

Interview by: Pero Smolčić

Translated by: Lejla Gotovuša

Friday, 20 June 2008


Commissar on duty in Ministry of Internal Affairs of Hercegovina-Neretva Canton Himzo Đonko announced that police forces will confront to any attempt of creation of disorder during and after the Croatia-Turkey match which will played today in Euro 2008 in Wien. There will be 650 policemen from Herzegovina, among there will be significant numbers of rarely equipped members of Special unit of MIA HNK known as "Turtles".

Special attention will be devoted to Mostar, Stolac and Prozor where is possible that eventual confrontations of hooligans will turn into international encounter. They reminde readers on incidents that occur two years ago after the match between Croatia and Brazil at World Championship when huge riot happened. Couple days ago there were some incidents after the match between Croatia - Germany.
(Translation assistance by: Lejla Gotovuša)


Before the quarter final match between Croatia and Turkey in EURO 2008, which will be played today, I wanted to write my observations about the friendly match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia that was played last year relating both of the matches. This will also be an opportunity for me to write something into my blog again after a long time.


Stadium: Koševo

Date: August 22, 2007

Sarajevo Film Festival is going on. Sarajevans are running from one venue to another to watch as much films as possible. My favorite films are those new films which are directed in ex-Yugoslav geography. I also try to catch short and documentary films as a habit that I have since my university years in Ankara. We were not missing short and documentary films in Ankara Film Festival, as they were free of charge. At 14:30, there is a documentary film called “Karneval”. This is a Montenegrin-Bosnian co-production. The theme is about the human rights assault of Montenegrin government to the Bosnian refugees during the war in 1992-1995 referring to Montenegro’s unwillingness to share the sins of war with the big brother Serbia. The producer of the documentary is a name that I recognize: Boro Kontić is a Montenegrin originated Bosnian journalist who is also a great fan of Željeznićar. He does not miss the matches in Grbavica. The primary source of information for social scientists during the fieldwork are usually journalists who can give you information about everything. In fact, Boro had always replied my questions with a great patience in Sarajevo Media Center, while having a coffee or rakija together.

While I was running to the Bosnian Culture Center, which was the venue for the film, I met another guy whom I knew. Although I could recognize his face, I could not remember who he was. Just before entering the Bosnian Culture Center, I have remembered who he was: Jeremy Irons! He was walking neither with bodyguards nor with a group of people who bores him with autographs of photos. Sarajevans are pride of being so much interested in arts without railroading celebrity artists. It can be the reason why Sarajevo had always been an attractive city for artists even during the war. A note: This year it will be fourteenth anniversary of the film festival, where the first one was organized in 1995 during the war.

After the film, I had a walk in the city center. The Marshal Tito Street is like a battlefield. While I was watching the film, there was a fight between Bosnian and Croat football fans. Today, there will be a “friendly” match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia.

In the first sight, that match between two neighbors does not look like an important one. However, the history had witnessed great tragedies. During the war in 1992-1995, Croats were fighting against Serbs with Bosnians. However, after a while they opened a third front with the provocation of nationalist leaders in order to be able to take a “piece” from Bosnia which was already been smashed. Mostar is the city that witnessed the biggest tragedies of that war. Te buildings on Šantićeva Street are still in ruins. Šantićeva Street was the borderline in Mostar that divided the city into two parts: Western Croat, and Eastern Bosnian parts. After shelling the Serbian Orthodox church in East Mostar, the Croat artillery had destroyed the Mostar Bridge aiming at sweeping all the symbols of fraternity of different cultures. No one can forget the scene of the fall of the historical, beautiful Mostar Bridge. Although since the end of the war, there are relatively good relations between Bosnian and Croatian government, it seems the tragic experiences in Mostar are difficult to be forgotten. Two years ago, during and after the match between Croatia and Brazil in the World Cup in Germany, there had been tension between Bosnian Muslim and Croat communities in especially in Mostar, sometimes causing serious conflicts. Bosnian Croats who are ethnically affiliated with Croatia were supporting Croatian national team, whereas Bosnian Muslims were supporting Brazil against Croatia. Is it possible if the match between Croatia and Turkey which will be played today may cause similar, even more serious problems? The answer may be found in the friendly match between Croatia and Bosnia which was played last year.

I was a bit late to the match that had begun at 20:00. Just at the moment I entered into the stadium Croatia scared a goal. I met with Adnan, Admir and Damir at Koševo Istok (Eastern part of Stadium). Adnan is my buddy with I had been many matches in Sarajevo. He is from Herzegovina and a hard core fan of Mortar’s team Velež. Admir is from central Bosnian town Zavidoviči, and Damir is his cousin. Admir and Damir are not very much interested in football, but what would be more enjoyable to go to a football match in a nice summer night? There are approximately 15,000 Bosnian fans in the stadium, and around 1,000 Croats. It takes nine hours to get to Sarajevo from Zagreb by bus, which means just an overnight travel. That is exactly not a great distance for fanatics, but I was surprised by the amount of fans that came to Sarajevo because of a “friendly” game. Adnan told me that most of supporters of Croatia are ethnic Croats from Bosnia. This is visible from the banners at the Croat side, which represent different locations in Bosnia. This is not acceptable by Bosnian fans. Both of the sides swear to each other during the whole match. I have to mention that Croatian and Bosnian are almost the same language. Grammar structure is the same, but only some vocabulary differs. More than two different languages, they resemble two different dialects. So, both sides can understand the swearwords of the other side. From time to time, instead of swearwords, the fans prefer to throw coins or similar things to each other. Now, it is 1-1 and Bosnians are more hopeful. However, Croats score two more goals and disappoint Bosnians. Croats make good passes in midfield and look for goal by rapid attacks. Bosnian players do their best, but could not avoid deadly attacks of Croats and the score is 1-3. One more goal of Bosnia gives hope to the fans but the final score is 3-5 for Croats.

During the match, when Croat fans attempted to throw flambeaus to the Bosnian fans, there was a clash between policemen and Croatian fans. A slogan of Bosnian fans took my attention: “Zagreb će biti turska mahala”. I got a bit surprised. It means: Zagreb will be Turkish “mahala” (district). In my previous article on my observations about the football match played between Slavija and Sarajevo, I had already mentioned about great sympathy of Bosnians towards Turkey. But, even that sort of sympathy makes me to be surprised. I complain to Adnan that it had been almost two centuries since Turks had left Bosnia and we still have problems with Serbs (and Croats) because of them (Bosnians)”. Adnan takes attention to the roots of the conflict. That is Turkish occupation. What shall I say? In fact, he is true. Adnan had met many Turks when he was living in Germany during the war. Since teaching swearwords to the foreigners is the first cultural diffusive attempt of an average Turk, Adnan is also good at swearing in Turkish language, besides essential swearwords of Bosnian language.

When Turkey was seeded with Croatia for the quarter final match of EURO 2008, I remembered that slogan: “Zagreb će biti turska mahala”. Considering the fact that there had been clashes during the match between Croatia and Bosnia, I am curious about what would happen during and after the match between Croatia and Turkey. Mostar has a fame of violence related with football. The Mostar team Zrinjski was banned during the Yugoslav period since it was supported by fascist Croatian (Ustaşi) regime during the Second World War. After the collapse of Yugoslavia, one of the first implementations of nationalist Croatian politicians was to re-activate the club. Velež fans are angry on that issue. There are two reasons for that: Firstly, Velež has got a claim of representing Bosnian (or better to say; Herzegovinian) identity, whereas Zrinjski appear as a nationalist entity provoking ethnic hatred. The second issue is that, Velež fans claim that Zrinjski had stolen their Stadium Bijeli Brijeg. Bijeli Brijeg is located in the so-called Croatian Western part of Mostar, and was rented by Zrinjski club for 49 years in some informal ways. All of Zrinjski-Velež matches are causes of street fights in Mostar. Especially when the matches are in Bijeli Brijeg, since the Velež fans has to pass through district with high buildings, they have to interfere with the jars, or other types of pots thrown from the flats. The rivalry between those teams may sometimes end up with very strange events. Last season, tens of fans were injured during the match in Mostar between Zrinjski and Partizan from Serbia when two teams were seeded in UEFA Cup. Some Velež fans had supported Partizan. Keeping also in mind what happened during the match between Croatia and Brazil, those two examples may give some hints about what can happen in Mostar during the match between Croatia and Turkey. According to the evening news of Federal TV in Bosnia in June 18, Mostar polis has already taken precautions in case of any clashes. Obviously, Zagreb will not be a Turkish district, but Turkish mahala atmosphere will be more or less effective in at least half of Mostar.

And, what about the game Bosnia-Croatia? My Bosnian friends did not make any technical analysis about the game. It has been a long time that “110 x 70 meter grass field” is the last think that is spoken about football in Balkans…

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Among the flambeaux | Anthropology, ‘joyful fandom’ and the flares of Sarajevo

John Turnbull is a podcaster from U.S.A. publishing quite an enjoyable, but moreover a successful weblog on football culture. It was a fun for me to have an interview for his weblog. Here is his weblog's adress:

Here is the his article about Bosnian Football Culture, about my weblog:

And, here is the sound file of the interview he did with me: