This preview is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Adam Brogden
Let’s start with a rather bizarre story about continuity. Or lack of it.
You see, nobody knows for sure how old GNK (“GNK” stands for “Građanski nogometni klub” or “Bourgeois football club“) Dinamo Zagreb actually is. If you take the current official story from the official web-site of GNK Dinamo that goes back in 1911 (the year in which Građanski had been constituted but were banned during the communist reign between 1945 and 1991 due to ideological reasons).
However, NK „Dinamo Zagreb“, the one that had won The Fairs Cup in 1966-67 in one of the most exciting campaigns ever, were constituted in 1945, after Yugoslav partisans under command of The Supreme Commander Josip Broz Tito finally won the war against Ustashi regime of Ante Pavelić and Hitler’s army on Yugoslavian soil. The name „Dinamo“ had had every sign of brotherhood with Soviet pandans in Moscow, Georgia and Ukraine, as well as the one from Romania (Bucharest).
As you might expect, once Croatia had started cutting their ties with the dissolving Yugoslavia, their sport was going under ideological changes as well. So „Dinamo“ had been given a different name – „HAŠK Građanski“ (It could be translated as “Croatian Academic Sport Club Bourgeois”).
It didn’t catch on exactly – “HAŠK” and “Građanski” were two different clubs and had two completely different backgrounds so that name wore off after just two seasons before another change was made. The club changed the name to „Croatia Zagreb“. It was supported directly from the Croatian president Franjo Tuđman who was pretty regular visitor of the stands. The Bad Blue Boys – a rather notorious fan group that had managed to get “Croatia Zagreb” banned from European competitions for a year in 1994 – who were either boycotting the games or using a funny chant that I would like to translate a bit freely in order to keep the substance over form:
„There is a weird man, his name is Franjo Tuđman, every night before the sleep he does the same, he changes the Dinamo’s name.”
Zlatko Canjuga – who was a president of “Croatia Zagreb” – tried to persuade Tuđman that chants weren’t coming from the real Dinamo fans but from “Sorosh’ agents in Croatia”. As a real autocrat, Tuđman wanted – a bit in a mould of Benito Mussolini who had insisted in constituting AS Roma in 1927 in order to make „a massive Roman club“ – to make „Croatia Zagreb“ a massive club, the one that would dominate in Croatian football and compete in the European.
In order to do so, „Croatia“ practically had an unlimited budget even if the tax on players’ income was beyond normality at 132 percent (that tax-debt was later written off – we are talking about millions of euros) and the history of four different clubs from Zagreb had been merged into one („HAŠK“, „Građanski“, „Concordia“ and „Dinamo“).
This project also resembled a bit of Steaua Bucharesti during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu (which Florian, a regular correspondent of the site from Romania, may or may not agree with). „Croatia Zagreb“ had seven out of 22 players from the Croatian national team that ended up third in 1998 World Cup and some of their players made big transfers to the top European leagues – Dario Šimić, Silvio Marić and Mark Viduka were sold to Internazionale, Newcastle and Celtic respectively.
Most notable result was a 0:0 draw at Old Trafford against the reigning European champions Manchester United with Osvaldo Ardilles, the ex-Tottenham player, in charge of „Croatia“. Igor Bišćan (later of Liverpool) was the key player of that team.
After Franjo Tuđman died in 1999, the dark clouds over Maksimir showed up even if the fans had got what they had been asking for – the name „Dinamo“ finally restored. Players like Robert Prosinečki and Igor Cvitanović had sued the club in order to get the money they had earned but here comes one of the biggest irregularities in Croatian football ever – The Supreme Court of Croatia ruled that the debts „died“ with „Croatia“ and that „Dinamo“ were something completely new, a new-born club, clean of the sins from the past. However, „Dinamo“ have kept bragging rights about results and the history of „Croatia Zagreb“.
Oh, and here is another bizarre thing. Dinamo did pay some debts in order to get their European licence – marginal players like Miroslav Dujmović and Kazuyoshi Miura got their money as FIFA had blocked „Dinamo“ from making transfers. Dujmović and Miura were lucky to be foreign players (from Bosnia Herzegovina and Japan respectively) so FIFA actually reacted to protect them. The Croatian players weren’t protected from the injustice.
That’s where the reign of Zdravko Mamić had its start. With a huge help from the City of Zagreb and their mayor Milan Bandić (who was arrested once for driving under the influence and an attempt to bribe the police officer during his first term as a mayor in 2002) who has granted millions of euros over the years from the Zagreb budget to Dinamo. Mamić even publicly stated that he had ordered his players to vote for Bandić as it would be „voting for the hand that feeds them“. After Croatia became an EU-member, City of Zagreb has cut down their help to Dinamo.
I find interesting to notice that Dinamo have made number of excellent sales from the league that is arguably one of the worst in Europe (don’t let yourself get tricked with UEFA coefficients) and from the club that haven’t had significant European victories in years. Ćorluka was sold to Manchester City, Dejan Lovren to Olympique Lyon, Alen Halilović to Barcelona, Mateo Kovačić and Marcelo Brozović to Inter, Mario Mandžukić to Wolfsburg, Luka Modrić to Tottenham, Eduardo da Silva to Arsenal and Jozo Šimunović to Celtic.
So, there are a lot of things about „Dinamo“ that should have made their European rivals, never mind their domestic rivals, protest about, starting with their participation in European football based on a decade of domestic dominance:
1: A lot of money granted from the budget of City of Zagreb, mostly for the stadium and the youth academy,
2. A large tax-debt written off by the Croatian government,
3. The fact „Dinamo II“ (Lokomotiva) compete with „Dinamo I“ in the same level even if the UEFA rules have forbidden such a thing,
4. A number of suspicious transfers that have been a subject of the criminal investigations in Croatia (Modrić),
5. The Mamić agency participation in the transfers that include Dinamo,
6. A contract between Zdravko Mamić and Eduardo da Silva that has been declared void by the Supreme Court of Croatia according to which Eduardo had obliged himself to pay 20 percent of his income to Mamić until the end of his career,
7. Connections between influential members of UEFA Damir Vrbanović and Davor Šuker with Dinamo,
8. etc, etc.
(Back in 2002, Ivica Olić was the best player in the Croatian league and was a driving force behind NK Zagreb’s only league title in the history of the club. He had been sought by Hajduk Split, the main rivals of Dinamo Zagreb, but instead of joining Hajduk, in a surprising turn of events, Olić signed for Dinamo instead. The rumours following the transfer included Olić’s agent being driven in the trunk of a car until he was „persuaded“ to sign the contract.“)
I will stop here and made my deepest regrets that we lost a brilliant talent of the late Adam Brogden as he would have been all over this case and would have covered the whole story better than I have done. If my effort was anywhere near his best pieces, I would like to dare to dedicate this piece to him.”
24 November 2008: Arsène Wenger announced that Cesc Fàbregas was the new permanent Arsenal captain, following the dismissal of William Gallas who had fallen out with the squad following his complaints.
24 November 2009: Alex Song signed a new contract to last to 2014. However after reported disagreements with the management he was sold to Barcelona after 2012, and after two years they loaned him for two seasons to West Ham.
The latest meanderings from the History Society….
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 1: the re-birth of the club. 1969/70
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 2: preparing for the impossible. (July to December 1970)
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 3: The Golden Treble
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 4: What went so right in 1971, and why did it then go so wrong?
- Arsenal in the 70s, part 5. After the double, double doubts.