Outrage in Croatia over comments from ex-Real Betis star ends in sacking from national team

Former Real Betis star and club icon Robert Jarni has been sacked from his coaching duties with the under-17 Croatia side, after declaring that he would be supporting his old side in their Conference League tie against Dinamo Zagreb on Thursday evening.

Jarni, who won 81 caps for Croatia, and a single cap for Yugoslavia, spent three years at Real Betis before a move to Real Madrid in 1998. He became a cult hero in Seville, and is still fondly remembered by Beticos.

“Betis have a much better squad, there is no doubt, but be careful that in this team there are three or four players who are very good, of a lot of quality. They are going to maintain the hunger to compete. It could happen that Dinamo scores a goal, and then? Anything can happen,” Jarni explained, as carried by Marca.

“What do you mean who am I going to support? Betis are my club, where I have spent three wonderful years. I don’t think anyone can blame me for that. Besides, I am from Hajduk Split in my heart.”

Jarni came through the ranks at Hajduk, who are bitter rivals with Dinamo too, but the Croatian Federation released a statement declaring that the leadership committee had unanimously decided to sack Jarni for his remarks.

They said that ‘every player, and even every Croatia player, has the right to support whichever team they want, but we hold our coaches to a higher standard’. Their statement went on to say that his words were ‘inadmissable’, and that Jarni ‘crossed a line. All coaches in the Croatian Federation should support unity for Croatian football.’

It certainly seems overzealous at best, and it probably won’t go unnoticed in Croatia that Dinamo tend to have closer links to the Federation than Hajduk. Jarni’s words certainly seem understandable.

Tags Croatia Dinamo Zagreb Real Betis Robert Jarni
La Liga - Club News