Open letter by Croatian LGBT group calls for action to end homophobia17 May 2011


We are writing to you with the intent of drawing your attention to the repeated homophobic statements given to the media by the President of the Croatian Football Federation VLATKO MARKOVIĆ and the executive president of FC Dinamo Zagreb ZDRAVKO MAMIĆ.

The facts and contents of this letter are known to relevant Croatian authorities, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Gender Equality Ombudsperson, as well as the Croatian public. Our organisations have also filed a lawsuits against Vlatko Marković and Zdravko Mamić for the violation of the Anti-Discrimination Act and the Sports Act.

The lawsuit was filed on the grounds of the statements given by the defendant Vlatko Marković to the daily newspaper Večernji list, dated 7th of November, 2010.

The statement in question is found in a Večernji list article entitled 'There's No Room for a Gay in the [Croatia national football team]', in which he responded to the reporter Tomislav Dasović's questions as follows:

„Could an openly gay player be a part of the Croatian selection?
– Not while I'm the president, certainly not!

Have you ever met such a player in your career?
– No, luckily, only healthy people play football.“

On the 16th of November 2010, after the controversial statement of Mr Marković that was relayed by numerous web portals and television broadcasts, in an article entitled 'Homosexuals Wouldn't Play for My Selection, Either' the daily newspaper Jutarnji list published a statement by Mr Mamić in which he claims that 'gay football players can't play for the selection' since, due to their 'slight build', he sees gay men as more suited to 'working in other fields, such as being ballet dancers, authors or journalists'.

Mr Mamić verified the authenticity of said article in court, adding that his words were faithfully conveyed; while Mr Marković stated that his statements had been misinterpreted.

Acting as the central authority in the elimination of discrimination, the Ombudsman has urged the Ministry of Science, Education and Sports, the Croatian Olympic Committee and the Croatian Football Federation to take all the legal and other measures stipulated by the law and their regulations, in order to prevent and sanction discriminatory statements and acts.

Since to this day there have been no institutional measures taken to inspect the responsibility of Mr Marković and Mr Mamić, we have decided to inform UEFA about the situation.

Within the class action suits against Mr Marković and Mr Mamić, our organisations have requested the court ban any further appearances in the media, in a way that is discriminatory based on one's sexual orientation, and there be issued a public apology in a daily newspaper for making such statements, at their own expense.

We would like to remind you that this is not the first time a person of a high position in Croatian football openly expressed their homophobic sentiments, spread prejudice and invited discrimination against LGBT persons. In the 2004, the then national team coach Mr Otto Barić made an almost identical statement, for which UEFA took disciplinary action against him.

Kind regards,
For Center for LGBT Equality,

• Marko Jurčić
• Karla Horvat Crnogaj
• Matea Popov
• Franko Dota
• Danijela Almesberger
• Gordan Bosanac
• Zvonimir Dobrović