UEFA President celebrates Croatian centenary

UEFA President Michel Platini was a guest of honour along with other footballing dignitaries at festivities in Zagreb to mark the 100th anniversary of football in Croatia.

UEFA President Michel Platini has visited Croatia for celebrations to mark 100 years of football in the country.

Mr Platini, who was accompanied by members of the UEFA Executive Committee, was a guest of honour at the centenary event at the Croatian National Theatre, a historic landmark in the centre of the capital Zagreb.

"The Croatian FA is dynamic, and the names of the best Croatian players playing for top European clubs continue to echo in the world of football," Mr Platini told an audience which featured a host of famous Croatian footballing names, including Alen Bokšić, Robert Jarni, Miroslav Blažević and Igor Štimac. "Croatian football is a symbol of national identity. The national association has achieved excellent results in major competitions. I wish Croatian football every success in the future."

The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) was founded on 13 July 1912 as a football section of the Croatian Sports Association. Following the break-up of Yugoslavia, Croatia regained independence in 1991. The HNS renewed its membership of the world football body FIFA in July 1992 before joining UEFA in June 1993.

The federation's greatest success in recent times was to win the bronze medal at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France. The Golden Boot in that tournament went to Davor Šuker, who was chosen as the best Croatian player in the last 50 years during UEFA's Jubilee in 2004, and who is now the HNS president.

"We are very proud on our 100th birthday," said Šuker. "I am very happy that there are so many important people at our big celebration. Football is a sport that gathers people together, irrespective of gender, race, political or religious belonging. We have excellent relations with UEFA, and we appreciate UEFA's support in our new football projects in Croatia."

HNS executive president Damir Vrbanović thanked Mr Platini and other footballing dignitaries for attending the anniversary event. "We are proud to have them here," he said. "It is also a sign of respect to the Croatian Football Federation and its position in European and world football."