Croatian Pride Shines Bright During Worlc Cup

Simon Bullerdick, staff writer

Croatian pride shined bright throughout Omaha during their improbable run in the World Cup over the summer. Croatia has only been an independent country since 1996. They placed third in there very first World Cup appearance in 1998 but haven’t made it past the group stage until this year. With just a little over 4 million people and being the second-smallest country to make a World Cup final there’s a lot to be proud of.
On the other hand, there opponent France have a long history with the tournament never failing to qualify, and before this one, already having a trophy under their belt from when they won in on home soil in 1998.
Croatia was one of only three teams to win all group stage matches, beating Nigeria, Iceland, and Argentina. The red and White then barely got by Denmark and Russia winning in penalty’s and crushed England hopes and dreams in the semis by scoring the winning goal in extra time to send them to their first World Cup final.
Think the Super Bowl times ten, that’s how natives and fans of the teams treat the final. Parties in Croatia and other participating countries attract thousands in town squares to watch games together. In Omaha viewing parties are still common, hosted at soccer themed bars and restaurants fans all over the Omaha area come together to watch these games. Central High student Ava Schicke is one of thousands in Omaha with Croatian blood that celebrated their unbelievable run in the tournament, calling the team “a symbol of national pride” and star players like Modric and Rakitic being not just celebrities but national icons, making Ava proud of her part of the family and where they come from.
Much of the country’s pride comes from the Croatian War of Independence from 1991 to 1995, declaring independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Though Avas family is majority from the United states, her father came to America around this time and still have family living in Croatia, and when they go back during the summer, soccer and the war stories are still talked about.
Most of the players on the team where affected by the war, for them to now be playing on the biggest stage in the world, representing their country that has been through so much, there’s a whole lot to be proud of.
Even though Croatia lost 4-2 in the final, it was an amazing campaign. Upsetting powerhouses and on multiple occasions barley getting by, its still an amazing accomplishment. On the teams return home they were treated like kings, as a thanks from their fans for accomplishing so much and changing Croatia soccer forever.