Introduced in Croatia by English engineers during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, football quickly became a tool of identity and political emancipation: first from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy, then from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and finally from Communist Yugoslavia until independence in 1992. Yet rivalries between clubs or fans go beyond the single question of national identity, from a capital city’s supremacy with Zagreb to regional affiliation in Dalmatia or Istria. Moreover, this chapter aims to show to what extent football can be seen as a metaphor of the exercise of power in Croatia, marred with authoritarian tendencies and widespread corruption. Eventually, football fans’ involvement in the politics of sport may pave the way for football to be more than just a metaphor.
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