Speech of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior and Chair of the National Coordination Body for the Croatian Presidency of the IHRA, Davor Božinović, at the ceremony of acceptance of the IHRA non-binding working definitions by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), Split, 25 March 2023

Please allow me to begin by thanking the Croatian Football Federation for their initiative to use this ceremony today to support its commitment to the fight against racism, discrimination and hate speech, thereby confirming its clear determination to contribute to positive changes in our society.

This is particularly important having in mind the recent multiple expressions of intolerance, hatred and even physical attacks on foreigners who, corresponding to the needs of our labour market, live and work in Croatia in growing numbers.

Unfortunately, such incidents are not unknown even to members of the Roma minority in Croatia.

Discrimination of any kind against a member of any nation, race or religion is incompatible and in completely contradiction to democratic values and the highest standards of human rights protection embedded in the foundations of our Constitution.

In its campaign “We Are All One Family”, the Croatian Football Federation contributes to strengthening awareness of the unacceptability of discrimination, which is, unfortunately, still manifested in football and other stands, thus casting a shadow on the great accomplishments of our national team as well as the reputation of Croatia and Croatian football worldwide.

On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, I would like to thank the Croatian Football Federation for investing funds collected from fines for such unacceptable behaviour in prevention and for directing part of these funds to purchasing sports equipment donated today to the Croatian Romani Union (in the Republic of Croatia) “Kali Sara”.

Today, ahead of the qualifying match between Croatia and Wales (for the European Football Championship), the Croatian Football Federation adopted three non-binding working definitions of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance – IHRA:

  • working definition of antisemitism
  • working definition of antigypsyism/anti-Roma discrimination
  • and working definition of Holocaust denial and distortion.

In this, I see a further step forward made by the Croatian Football Federation, which, apart from combating discrimination, racism and hate speech, also recognizes the importance of its role and contribution in all of these three areas.

In doing so, the Croatian Football Federation was among the first in the world to show support to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance at such a high level.

For those who may not be familiar with the IHRA, the core work of the Alliance is the strengthening, further development and promotion of education, remembrance and research about the Holocaust, both at the political level and through the world’s best experts on these issues.

The mission of the IHRA is dedicated to a world that remembers the Holocaust and a world without genocide.

The main topic of our presidency is the future of remembrance, i.e. the Future of Remembrance initiative.

We opted for this initiative aware that we are approaching the moment when no more Holocaust survivors and witnesses will be among us.

With the departure of Holocaust survivors and witnesses, antisemitic incidents, spread of extremism and increasingly present hate speech, which are unfortunately too often associated with football and its fans, have risen in the recent years in Europe and globally.

It is our duty to use initiatives such as this one to resolutely oppose such unacceptable phenomena in our society and in the digital space.

This is the reason why we are already considering how to protect historical facts and where to find new stakeholders who will help to prevent discrimination and hate speech in sports competitions more resolutely and to promote the culture of Holocaust remembrance.

We hope to find those stakeholders in our national football team and among world-class athletes who will represent Croatia in the Olympic Games in France next year.

The reflections and ambitions of our IHRA presidency go even further – with the help of these new stakeholders, we want to spread the future of remembrance beyond Croatian borders, i.e. raise it to the level of the entire Alliance and even further.

In achieving this ambition, we believe we can count on further support of the Croatian Football Federation, Ministry of Tourism and Sport as well as the Croatian Olympic Committee and football and other sports clubs across Croatia.

Source: HNS

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