kolinda_grabar_kitarović.jpg
Photograph: Hina/ Tomislav Pavlek/tp

The Centre for Peace Studies and GONG NGOs on Monday condemned last week's violence of some football fans but also calls for lynching hooligans, saying the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) was poorly run and calling on President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic to publicly declare her personal, social, political and business ties to the HNS and controversial football manager Zdravko Mamic.

"In the delicate situation of a drastic conflict between some football fans and the HNS and in the context of a political crisis in which the most senior institutions have 'caretaker' legitimacy, the president has an important role, as she must have strong integrity and credibility so that her initiatives for the protection of national interests are trusted by the public and so that she can mediate between the opposing sides," the two NGOs said in a press release.

In order to protect her own credibility, the president should publicly declare her personal, social, political and business ties to the HNS and Mamic, the press release said, adding that the media had already speculated or stated facts on Mamic's contribution to the president's election campaign.

The two NGOs expect the president to publicly declare her potential conflict of interest.

They also pointed to the social irresponsibility of numerous public reactions to last week's violence at a Croatia-Czech Republic Euro 2016 match, saying they contributed to an atmosphere of fear, hatred and violence, with hooligans labelled as terrorists or enemies of Croatia and calls for their persecution.

"A politically and socially responsible reaction must focus on the poor and potentially criminal management of the HNS without democratic supervision. The HNS does not see itself as an organisation of public interest but as a 'private circle of football employees'. Football fans should be enabled to democratically push for their goals and participate in the public supervision of the HNS' work," the press release said. 

The HNS refuses to operate transparently, breaching the constitutional right to access information, and the judiciary has only recently responded to years of pointing to corruption and immorality in Croatian football, the press release said.

"Zdravko Mamic is deeply intertwined with the social and political elites and has publicly boasted of being a contributor to the HDZ party. Media reports that he organised a party for the president's birthday have never been refuted," the two NGOs said, adding that anti-corruption agents had revealed his ties to Constitutional Court judges and that the HNS could not be deeply reformed until Mamic's ties to the political elite are broken.

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