Sports Soccer

Soccer has been part of Croatia's identity even before there was a Croatia

A couple of weeks before the Croatian national team left for Russia and the start of a surprising World Cup run that has carried it to Sunday’s final, fans of Dinamo Zagreb, the country’s most important club team in its largest city, gathered before a monument at Maksimir Stadium, a spot they consider hallowed ground.

It was there, at a soccer stadium, the fans say, that the country’s battle for independence kicked off.

“To all the Dinamo fans for whom the war started on May 13, 1990 and ended with them laying down their lives on the altar of the Croatian homeland,” an inscription on the monument reads.

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