This Japanese tourist loves the Croatian Football Team very much. So much that he wears it in a place most people don’t dare. At least not until Wednesday.This is so much more than a lucky photo by Tomislav Božak from Rijeka.
Thus, it documents a mean without fear.
Or perhaps a man whose attention the breakup of Yugoslavia and the subleties in the post-YU relations between its successors have eluded so far.
For Tomislav took this photo in a place where most people wouldn’t dream of wearing a Croatian fan shirt these days.
He took it in the very center of Beograd, the capital of Serbia, at Kalemegdan.
If you have any doubts, just take a look at the pillar with the statue in the background.
And while it is true that a lot of Serbs here and all over the world cheer the Croatian team in the World Cup as much as the do their own – Football unfortunately is an area where Balkan nationalism blossoms unhindered.
There are videos of Serbian fans wearing T-Shirts with photos of Ratko Mladić, celebrating the Srebrenica genocide.
And Serbia’s national coach called for the referee of Serbia’s match vs. Switzerland to be tried in The Hague.
That’s where the war criminals from the Yugoslav wars in the 90’s have been tried until recently.
(There also was a scandal involving Albanian Nationalist gestures in this match. Read more here.)
After winning its latest match, the Croatian national Team is reported to have sung songs from a neofascist band in their locker room.
And some Croatian fans in Germany (and presumably in other countries) cheered their Teams victory with fascist flags.
Which aggravated a lot of Serbs.
So, wearing this shirt may not be the safest thing to do. At least not until Wednesday, depending on whether Serbia drops out of the tournament or not.
If it does, a lot Serbians will just cheer for the Croatian Team. A bit of Yugoslavia still seems to be alive.
Title photo: Courtesy of Tomislav Božak/Diesel RI.