Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.
The second candle on the Advent wreath in front of the Cathedral and the Rector’s Palace was lit last night, the candle of peace.
The candle was lit by the archbishop of Zadar, Msgr. Želimir Puljić, and with him was the Bishop of Dubrovnik, Msgr. Roko Glasnović, and the Cathedral Choir performed.
The lighting of the second candle was also attended by the Mayor of Dubrovnik, Mato Franković, and his colleagues.
At the end of the ceremony there was socializing with the traditional sweet snack “prikle” and tea.
Money talks. Always has and probably always will. And money is undoubtedly the only, I repeat only, reason why we are all glued to our TV screens watching football from the middle of the desert.
In terms of population it would be like Croatia, without Zagreb, hosting the biggest sporting tournament in the world. Although Croatia is over five times the size of Qatar. Imagine that. If only we had 15 percent of the world’s gas and endless oil fields. It might be the 158th biggest country in the world, only just bigger than Kosovo, but it has the third largest gas reserves in the world. None of its 2 million residents live below the poverty line and less than 1 percent are unemployed.
Sport and politics have hit head on.
And whilst the two should be kept a long way from each other we are reading more about the controversies than the action on the pitch. I can’t help thinking that these protests are a little too late. Surely we all knew the situation before the teams got on the planes to Doha.
Whilst I may not agree with the Qataris policies they were all well known. And now it strikes of preaching rather than constructive arguments. If you don’t agree with their politics, then don’t go to the World Cup. Stand by your opinion. All it took was the threat of a yellow card and the whole of the Western protests collapsed.
We also have to be careful of double standards. If you live in a greenhouse don’t throw stones, is a saying that springs to mind.
FIFA was brought to its knees by the whole Qatar (and Russian) World Cups. And in spite of the obvious mass corruption surrounding the voting and selection of these two host countries the rest of the footballing world follows what FIFA orders. On the other hand, a tiny country demands that beer isn’t sold at venues a few days before the tournament kicks off and FIFA accepts without so much as a protest. And as one of FIFA’s main sponsors is Budweiser, but even the reported $75 million the beer company paid to be part of Qatar isn’t even close to what the Qataris offered.
And when you look at the finances it isn’t surprising. South Africa spent around $3.6 billion, Brazil $15 billion and Russia $12 billion. Huge numbers. But the 2022 World Cup in the desert of Qatar is estimated to be (at least) $220 billion. Much too much for FIFA to ignore. There were little sporting conditions taken into account.
More cash has been spent on one competition than all of the 21 tournaments that have come before. Money really does talk.
The last time the World Cup was held in the USA in 1994 they spent only $0.5 billion.
There is global politics and economic games going on, one could argue that the real games are off the pitch. It is “sportwashing” on a grand scale. And that according to the Oxford Dictionary is “a term used to describe the practice of individuals, groups, corporations, or governments using sports to improve reputations tarnished by wrongdoing.” The last two World Cups seem to fit into that model.
But the 99 percent has now forgotten the scandals, as soon as the first whistle was blown our minds were caught by the action. As it should be. The vast majority are here to watch football.
Sports commentators should leave the politics to other, more informed, journalists. Would you expect a political reporter to commentate on a football match?
In four years, when the World Cup circus moves to the USA, Canada and Mexico will we be wearing black lives matter T-Shirts? Will we be talking about people smuggling over the US/Mexico border? Or drug cartels?
I for one want to get back to the sport, to the love and passion of the game. But it seems that the intertwining of sport and politics is like a cobweb now. Our beautiful game, a game that at its essence is simple and can be played almost anywhere, is nothing without the fans. Just look back at the pandemic. The empty stadiums made the whole spectacle less attractive. And yet the fans are always the last of the list of considerations, as opposed to being the first. None of the multi-million sponsors would be interested in the game didn’t have a worldwide audience of billions. And Qatar certainly wouldn’t have spent a bucket load of gas cash.
And it is fans and fans alone that have the power to change the course of football. Whether they know their strength is debateable. Often they are treated as sheep. Unity is strength. Football has the power to unite nations, and if it were used as a force for good the sky is the limit. Now, I am going back to watch the games. Enjoy!
Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to
Croatia could join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in three to seven years, and most of the negotiations regarding membership will be related to the management of state-owned companies, the rule of law and the judiciary, said the Deputy Secretary General of the OECD in an interview for Hina.
"Croatia has started the negotiations with the OECD well. I was in Croatia this summer in order to start negotiations, on both levels, the political level and the one with all the officials in the Croatian ministries who will work during the negotiations", said Ulrik Knudsen in Riga, where on Tuesday and Wednesday he participated in the technology conference "5G Techritory".
"We can say that we have left the political part behind us, confirming that Croatia has become a candidate country, and now we are in the middle of difficult and technical negotiations," added Knudsen, a Danish diplomat.
The OECD, founded in 1961, is a forum of countries that call themselves democracies and market economies. The members finance it themselves and discuss global problems and publish economic analyses.
Croatia opened negotiations on January 25, 2022, five years after sending a letter of intent to join the Paris-based organization. In July, Knudsen met in Zagreb with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Minister of Foreign Affairs Gordan Grlić Radman.
"Croatia, on all issues, has already submitted what is called an initial memorandum. This means that Croatia has gone through everything that is relevant in the accession process, which is the basis of the negotiations," said Knudsen, who has held the position of Deputy Secretary General of the OECD since January 2019.
For the Croatian government, entry into that organization is politically important, so negotiations with the OECD are led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Knudsen believes that "Croatia is in a very good position to join the OECD", a club with 38 countries.
"It is very difficult to say when Croatia would be able to access. It will depend on the development of the negotiations. In the past, if we look at the last ten countries that joined, the process took somewhere between 3 and 7 years," he said.
"However, I think that Croatia has started well, so I hope that we will end the negotiations in a shorter period of time," he added.
The last country admitted to the OECD was Costa Rica, a Central American country, which began negotiations in April 2015 and joined the organization in May 2021.
Croatia drew against Belgium (0:0) in the third round of the World Cup group stage, and that was enough for second place in the group and a place in the round of 16.
Placement in the round of 16 brought a windfall of 12.5 million euros for the Croatian Football Association. Already placement in the World Cup in Qatar had brought a healthy 8.7 million euros into the coffers of the association. And if Croatia can get past Japan in the last 16 they would earn 16.5 million euros.
The winner of the World Championship will earn 40 million euros, the runner-up will receive 30 million, while the bronze medallist will receive 26 million euros.
This is an increase compared to the World Cup in Russia four years ago where second place earned Croatia 26 million euros, while the champions France earned 38 million euros.
The headquarters of civil protection in Croatia has extended the obligation to wear protective facemasks in pharmacies and health institutions. The obligation to wear facemasks has now been extended until the end of the year, the 31st of December.
Medical masks or face masks must be used in the correct way, so that the entire time the mask is worn, the mouth and nose are covered by employees in the healthcare system, i.e. in healthcare institutions, companies that perform healthcare activities and private healthcare workers, state the headquarters.
Patients and all persons who, for any reason, come to the premises of healthcare institutions and companies that perform healthcare activities, as well as the premises of private healthcare workers must wear a protective mask.
And the decision also applies to employees of social care institutions that provide accommodation services for the elderly and people with disabilities and visitors to beneficiaries.
Several Ukrainian embassies abroad, including the embassy in Zagreb, have received "bloody packages" with animal eyes, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Friday.
The packages, soaked in liquid of a characteristic colour and smell, were sent to the Ukrainian embassies in Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Croatia and Italy, the general consulates in Naples and Krakow and the consulate in Brno, announced on Facebook the spokesperson Oleg Nikolenko.
This incident follows a series of letter bombs sent to various addresses in Spain, including the Ukrainian embassy in Madrid.
And the Ministry of the Interior (MUP) confirmed that have taken the shipment that arrived at the address of the Embassy of Ukraine in Zagreb, and which, according to the Ukrainian authorities, contained animal eyes.
According to the data of the eVisitor tourist check-in and check-out system, there were 26,445 tourist arrivals and 61,053 overnight stays in Dubrovnik in November 2022. This is a massive 185 percent increase in tourist arrivals compared to the same month last year and 110 percent more overnight stays.
Compared to the record year 2019, 73 percent of tourist traffic was achieved in overnight stays and 57 percent in arrivals in November.
Most of the guests who stayed in Dubrovnik during November were from Croatia, Germany, the USA, Korea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the United Kingdom, Albania, France, Slovenia and Canada.
According to the type of accommodation, in November there were 21,869 arrivals and 43,052 overnight stays in hotels and 2,474 arrivals and 11,255 overnight stays in private accommodation.
From the beginning of the year to the end of November 1,020,014 tourists arrived in Dubrovnik and 3.5 million overnight stays were achieved. The most numerous tourists in Dubrovnik were from the United Kingdom, USA, France, Germany, Croatia, Ireland, Spain, Poland, Italy and the Netherlands. Compared to the record year 2019, from the beginning of 2022 to the end of November, this is 81 percent of the realized tourist traffic.
Croatia are into the final stages of the World Cup in Qatar after holding off Belgium. In the last 16 they will play against japan for a place in the quarterfinals. It was a tough and tense match against Belgium and after the game the captain and midfield ace, Luka Modric, was awarded the Man of the Match.
Modric stated after the match that “We are overjoyed to be in the round of 16. I think we deserved it, especially with the way we played in the last two games. We left everything on the pitch, from the first to the last player. And the headquarters and the entire team that is in Doha. We all live for this. We achieved our first goal, passing the group. Now let's move on. We showed that we are a top team and that we can play against anyone."
He was also asked if he were to give the trophy for the best player in the match with Belgium to one of his teammates, who would he give it to.
"I think the whole team deserved this trophy. How we played, how we fought and died for each other, how we represented Croatia... I think any player deserves this trophy."
Photo - HNS