Croatia: From War To World Cup Final

Nigeria did not fight a war of independence from Britain. There was no bloodshed in the quest for self government. We fought a civil war which lasted three years (1967-1970) after independence in 1960 yet we are unable to say sorry to ourselves, forgive ourselves, use tools of government and huge resources God blessed us with to heal our wounds both physically and emotionally, do the needful of sealing all loopholes of rancour through equity, fairness and honesty and then move on as a united and prosperous nation.

We have allowed the scar of that war to become a ghost hunting and tormenting this nation as if we are the only nation that has passed through war, no matter how bitter it was, no matter it’s colouration or nomenclature (civil or independence). Our failure to see, accept and work with the truth has continued to aggravate the anger of the founding fathers of this nation who are all no more but most especially the crying blood of those killed by the war.

The blood of the dead from both sides of the divide of the war which has not been appeased by the mere natural law of equity and justice could be the reason why more blood is flowing till date.
Between 31 March 1991 to 12 November 1995 which is exactly 4 years, 7 months, 1 week and 5 days,( of course longer than Nigeria’s civil war) Croatia fought a war of independence. It was Croats forces loyal to the government of Croatia which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) on June 25, 1991—and the Serb -controlled Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and local Serb forces, with the JNA ending its combat operations in Croatia by 1992.

The war ended with Croatian victory, as it achieved the goals it had declared at the beginning of the war: “independence and preservation of its borders”.

Approximately 21–25% of Croatia’s economy was ruined, with an estimated US$37 billion in damaged infrastructure, lost output, and refugee-related costs. A total of 20,000 people were killed in the war, and refugees were displaced on both sides.

Croatia has since then picked up her pieces and moved on. She has tried to establish a stronger and more reliable nation in just less than 23 years after the war. She has effectively used tourism to support and boost her “patchy” economy. She is moving into prosperity even if very slowly. Her bitter past is the tonic and propeller for sweet future. She is determined to succeed against all odds.

●Population is about 5.2m people
●Minimum wage per month is €462 (about N160, 000)
●GDP per capital is $13, 297, 67
●Unemployment rate is above10%
●Life expectancy at birth is 78 years
●Enrollment in primary school is 98%
●Landmass is just about 56, 594 square kilometres

Croatia is not a rich country but it is the fastest growing among the countries that parted ways with old Yugoslavia. Aside tourism, Croatia has added sports especially football as a source of boosting her economy through foreign exchange. For a country that came third in France ’98 World Cup (just few years after war and independence) and now in the final of Russia 2018 precisely 20 years after surely this is a massive progress for the small nation.
We must not forget easily that the some of the footballers who made up the bronze-winning squad in France ’98 were artisans, taxi drivers, scavengers and factory workers who are the war of independence came together in the spirit of patriotism to develop their country even if their contributions will be through participating in football training sessions, games and tournaments.

With her success in Russia by way of reaching the World Cup final, Croatia has attracted huge football investment for herself aside opening doors for her footballers to be targets of big money moves and transfers which will not only better the lives of the players individually but also the country’s economy through foreign exchange when the players move abroad from local clubsides.

One can only wonder if we can say or account for how much our football has raked in just only players’ transfer in the last four years or even in the last two years. We are richer than Croatia.

Infact, Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers can take care of Croatia economy. We are bigger both in size and population than Croatia. As a matter of fact, Adamawa, Yobe and Borno put together is bigger than Croatia. The population of Alimosho in Lagos West alone is more than that of Croatia. Yet life there is more beautiful, hopeful and safer than here
In 27 years of existence as a nation, Croatia have reached the World Cup final aside winning bronze in France ’98.

Nigeria is 57 years old and yet to reach the quarterfinal of the World Cup. Yes, we may say it is not about age or years of existence. Yes, we may start pointing at countries like United States of America to excuse our failures, but, is our sporting sector as good, vibrant, and money spinning as that of the USA where a basketballer drafted just from a High School team to the NBA becomes an instant millionaire?

By Desmond Ekwueme

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *