When Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb played Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade onAi??May 13, 1990 in Zagreb, what transpired wasn’t just an infamous football riot. It was a match that marked the beginning of the end of Yugoslavia.Ai??The match turned into a riot which broke out between two hooligan firms – the ‘Bad Blue Boys’ from Zagreb and the ‘Delije’ from Belgrade. That day, these two hooligan firms were representing more than their clubs. They were representing republics of Croatia and Serbia, respectively.

The timing of the match, and the consequent clash, was unfortunate. It came in the middle of an independence struggle in Yugoslavia and at a time the threat of a civil war was looming large. It also came just weeks after Croatia held its first multi-party elections that were won by parties favouring Croatian independence. Croatian leaders, along with leaders from Slovenia, wanted to restructure Yugoslavia into a confederation – a group of sovereign political units. However, this was opposed by the Serbian leaders that led to intense political tensions.

The two hooligan firms turned the stadium into a battlefield, with the police completely overwhelmed and in need for backups. The most significant and symbolic moment of the clash was when Dinamo Zagreb captain Zvonimir Boban kicked a police officer, who was attacking a Dinamo supporter. For this, he was proclaimed a national hero in Croatia.Ai??Soon after the riots, civil war broke out between Croatia and Serbia, by the end of which these two were separate countries.

The below video is a snippet from the ‘Real Football Factories’ – a documentary on hooliganism that beautifully captures the events from that day.

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2 Responses to “TheHardTackle Rewind: Episode Six”

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  1. Count Marcos says:

    I was 10 years old when this took place & will never forget this event even tho I was living in Australia, the Croatian people who fought that day are all Heroes, they were not fighting because of football, they were fighting for croatias independence, Unfortunately Serbia did not want Yugoslavia to be divided as they knew Croatias land had more valuable assets, so they decided to start war & thought they would be able to claim this land as their own,

    How wrong they were !! They misjudged the fighting spirit of a nation fighting for pride who had reason to defend their land.. We all know how the story ended..many innocent lifes lost and Countries divided by hate..

    The ironic thing is the Serbians would not exist if it were not for Croatia, Serbia was under attack from a the powerful hand of Bulgaria in ancient times and looked certain to be destroyed when Croatias king Tomislav offered his assistance & opened the doors for Serbians and offered them protection.

    The ironic thing Is

  2. Count Marcos says:

    I was 10 years old when this took place & will never forget this event even tho I was living in Australia, the Croatian people who fought that day are all Heroes, they were not fighting because of football, they were fighting for croatias independence, Unfortunately Serbia did not want Yugoslavia to be divided as they knew Croatias land had more valuable assets, so they decided to start war & thought they would be able to claim this land as their own,

    How wrong they were !! They misjudged the fighting spirit of a nation fighting for pride who had reason to defend their land.. We all know how the story ended..many innocent lifes lost and Countries divided by hate..

    The ironic thing is the Serbians would not exist if it were not for Croatia, Serbia was under attack from a the powerful hand of Bulgaria in ancient times and looked certain to be destroyed when Croatias king Tomislav offered his assistance & opened the doors for Serbians and offered them protection.