A scientific and professional conference on the historical, legal, and diplomatic aspects of football was held at the University of Rijeka, Faculty of Law, on Friday, September 8, 2023, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the first football match on the territory of the Republic of Croatia (1873 in Rijeka), 110 years since the first match on Kantrida Stadium between Viktoria and Građanski (1913), 100 years since the first match on Krimeja Stadium between Orient and HAŠK (1923), and 25 years since the historic bronze medal of the men’s football team at the FIFA World Cup in France (1998).
The meeting was held under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism and Sport of the Republic of Croatia, the Croatian Football Federation, the City of Rijeka, and the Croatian “Football Trade Union”. The meeting discussed the historical events and characteristics of Croatian first-division clubs, the sporting succession of football clubs, and the analysis of the legal and historical existence of HNK Rijeka and GNK Dinamo Zagreb. The speakers were Prof. Dr. Željko Bartulović (Faculty of Law in Rijeka), Prof. Dr. Siniša Petrović (Faculty of Law in Zagreb), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Marinko Lazzarich (Faculty of Teacher Education in Rijeka), Assist. Prof. Dr. Željko Heimer (President of the Fédération internationale des associations vexillologiques – FIAV), Vladimir Iveta (Secretary General of the Croatian Football Federation), Željko Ševerdija (Secretary of the Faculty of Teacher Education in Rijeka), Petar Ceronja (Secretary of the Faculty of Law in Zagreb) and the organizer of the event, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vanja Smokvina, head of the Centre and holder of the Jean Monnet Chair in EU sports law, policy, and diplomacy. The jerseys of the Croatian national football team, the first-division football team, and HNK Orient were also on display.
The meeting was opened by the President of the Croatian Football Federation, Marijan Kustić, the Vice-Rector of the University of Rijeka, Prof. Dr. Marta Žuvić, and the Dean of the Faculty of Law in Rijeka, Prof. Dr. Vesna Crnić-Grotić. The Honorary President of the Croatian Football Federation Branko Mikša, the Honorary Executive Director of the Croatian Football Federation Duško Grabovac, and the former Croatian national team players of France ‘98 Dario Šimić, Mario Stanić and Goran Vlaović spoke at the round table about 25 years of bronze in France ’98 and the example of how football can be the best example of sports diplomacy. The moderators were columnist and sports journalist Robert Matteoni and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Vanja Smokvina.