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Sunday, 22 June 2014

3 + 1 Articles on Bosnian National Squad and Football Fans

After last night's Nigeria-Bosnia match, Bosnia and Herzegovina had a farewell to Brasil 2014. For Bosnia, the match against Iran will not be more than a struggle for prestige. In this circumstance, we have more time to read about Bosnian football culture, than watching the games.

In June, three articles are published about Bosnian football and the fans of the Bosnian national football team. 

Simon Kuper's article published in June 6, 2014 in Fiancial Times titled "Bosnia and Herzegovina's World Cup Debut" is the first one. In the article, Kuper does not have a claim to discover something new about football in Bosnia. But, having been stayed in Bosnia to work on this article, he just transmits the Bosnian reality through his eyes. Without doubt, it is a great joy to read Bosnian football from the writer of "Football Against Enemy", the legendary masterpiece on sociology of football. 

It is known that, the person who only knows about football, in fact does not know anything football. That is why Kuper's articles are that enjoyable to read and they are that brain blooming: Because his point of interest is not only football. Indeed, when he was in Sarajevo, he wrote one more article titled "Sarajevo: The Crossroads of History" about the 100th anniversary of Ferdinand's assasin, which was the reason to start the First World War.

This is the article, by which I mean as +1 in the headline of this blog entry.

The second article is written by a young journalist: Fatih Saboviç. As can be understood from his surname, he is of Bosnian origin living in Turkey. He wrote an article titled: "Boşnak, Hırvat, Sırp Omuz Omuza" (Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats are Shoulder to Shoulder) relying on an interview he did with the leader of Bh Fanticos. The article is in Turkish and was published in Hürriyet daily newspaper one day before Nigeria-Bosnia match, June 20, 2014. Like Kuper, Fatih is also interested in many other issues apart from football as well and a young journalist around 23-24 years old, which would be nice to keep an eye on. 
Despite his young age, the codes of ethics of journalism that he respects, his maturity in his vacational professionlism and moreover his standpoint in life makes him better than many of those who are regarded as masters of sports journalism in Turkey. This interview was based on intelligent questions, with cleverly put outcomes. 

The only thing I oppose in this article is the title. Only in a small part of the interview, Sanin Kariç, the leader of BH Fanaticos menitons about his will more than the reality: "Croats and Serbs in Bosnia are also with us.. We all cosntruct a united power". And it was carried to the headline by the ediotr of the newspaper. 

The third article examines the issue from an opposite point of view. In fact, more than describing the current situation it seeks to find reasons about why the Bosnian Serbs and Bosnian Croats do not support the Bosnian national football team. The article written by me, titled "Perception of Bosnia and Herzegovina's Qualification to World Cup 2014" was published last week in the latest issue of Sportmont, the journal of the Montenegrin Academy of Sports.

I had writtten a blog entry about my visit to Podgorica last May. Although I could not take attention of Genclerbirligi club management for the trasnfer of Stefan Magusa, at least I managed to write an acadamic article.

I think, those who are interested in Bosnian football culture will enjoy reading those articles..

Saturday, 21 June 2014


In February 2006, when it was the first time for me to be in Sarajevo, I was a bit amazed when I saw the crowd on the streets of Sarajevo, despite the freezing cold. Around midnight, when I went out to eat something, this time I was surprised that the streets were almost totally empty, opposite to what I have seen only two hours ago! 

After some time I spent in Sarajevo, I have seen that the night life in Sarajevo is not surviving on “territorial” basis, but on some special points. In other words, the streets may be empty, but certain pubs hidden in a silent street or under a building can be a good host for those who want to enjoy the night life in Sarajevo.

This is a “football blog” and I will surely not talk about night life in Sarajevo. However, football became a part of night life in Sarajevo where the matches start in midnight.

…and an anecdote:

Year: 1986. The World Cup is organized in Mexico. The one when we could watch Valdano, Igor Balnov, Butragueno, Rummenige, where Gary Lineker was the top goal scorer and Maradona scored by the help of God’s hand. Mexico is not in the southern hemisphere like Brazil is. In mid-June, the matches were played under the hell shining sun of Mexico. But we, or better to say, our fathers, could watch the games in the chilly nights. Some matches were starting at 01:00 and it was not that easy for a kid to watch the games, whose mother is a primary school teacher.

But, in the middle of the night somebody pokes you when you are sleeping: “Dirim, wake up. There is the match of Platini…” While murmuring and rubbing the eyes a critical warning comes from dad: “Ssshhh. Be silent. If you mother will wake up, she will settle our hash.” My dad could not allow his son to miss his favourite player’s matches…

The concepts of “World Cup” and “watching the match in the midnight” have not been far away for my perception. I also remember that we were forced to match early in the morning, with semi-sleeping eyes during the World Cup 2002 in Japan-Korea, and therefore, I always prefer to watch a match in the midnight instead of early in the morning, relying on my experiences.

Cinema Kriterion, which was opened three years ago in Sarajevo, and soon became a point of attraction by intellectuals and artists, organized an activity. Before the match, one episode of the documentary “Football Rebels” would be shown which is about Predrag Pasic, an ex-player of Yugoslav National Team and recognized by his football school Bubamara for children whom he opened during the war when the city was under the rain of shells. After the documentary show, Predrag Pasic was there to reply the questions of the audience. After this activity, there was the live match broadcast on cinema screen.

I had to be there…

A short description of the place for those who have been in Sarajevo, or who will soon visit here: Kriterion is by Miljacka River. Just 50 meters to Dom Syndikata (for those who know; the place where there was my wedding), on the opposite side of the Greek embassy. Visit there when you come. Enjoy a beer.
I enjoyed the documentary film. More enjoyable was to meet with Predrag Pasic.
Kriterion and Worl Cup Beer Special
Small draft beer: 2 KM
Big draft beer: 3 KM

First 15 minutes of the match:
Pan Beer + Rakija: 2.5 KM
Tuborg Beer ++ Rakija: 3,5 KM

After every goal of our team: Reneval of the drinks, on the house.

After the documentary film, the cinema saloon began to be crowded. Kriterion was ready for the match, not with the crowd, but with the offers as well. In the first 15 minutes of the match, a beer and a rakija were for 2.5 KM (1.25 Euros). Moreover, renewal of the drinks is free after Bosnia’s each goal.

A betting table was prepared on the blackboard before the match. I suppose Marko had his free beer after his correct guess.

I betted for 0-0. I was thinking that strong teams like Argentina would prefer to have a wary start for the tournament and so would be Bosnia as well, playing their first match in World Cup. So was I as well. I learned to be wary since I guessed 7-0 victory for Bosnia against Turkey, four years ago in a TV show in Turkey and I decided to bet for a modest record.

However, I managed to be subject to reactions when I was writing my bet. Bosnians neither would like to talk about a defeat, nor about a draw. The cars and fireworks were ready in Sarajevo for celebrating Bosnia’s victory against Argentina.

Some say “Bosnia needs a success”. They believe that a success of Bosnian national team in World Cup may change the bad luck of this country. There are those who believe that a Bosnian Croats or Bosnian Serbs may begin to support Bosnian national team, and a belief on unity of the country may revive thanks to a success in football. I am not that much optimistic about it. Recently I have written an article about this and it is just published in Sportmont, the journal of Montenegrin Academy of Sports. Soon, I will load the article in my blog.

Predrag Pasic, the experienced football player, an experienced intellectual and an experienced citizen of Sarajevo, expressed his pessimism and claimed that unless the problems in political sphere are solved, it would be a dream to expect that Bosnian Croats or Bosnian Muslims would support Bosnian national team.
It also has to be noted that the first eleven of Bosnian squad was all Bosnian Muslim, except Zvijezdan Misimovic.

Just at the beginning of the match, the silence covered the souls in the cinema when the Schalke 04’s young left wing defender, who decided to Bosnian national rejecting the offer from German national team, Kolasinac scored an own goal. The smoke from the cigarettes in the cinema rose from the disappointed Bosnians. Yes, here is Bosnia and we watch the match in cinema with beers and cigarettes.
Despite the early goal, Bosnia does not give up. They exhibit the beauties of Yugoslav football with elegant offensive faults, with nice ankle movements, and with short, rapid and direct passes. But they are not lucky to score. Statistics of the match show that as well. The number of shots on goal and shots on target of Bosnian squad is more than that of Argentina. On the other side, they lose a lot of passes especially when the team is on attack.

The potential stars of the match were also silent. Dzeko was marked man-to-man quite well. And Messi was even marked by three defenders from time to time. Another young star of Bosnia; Muhammed Besic, who was born in Berlin in 1992, and currently playing for Ferencvaros, was like the shadow of Messi during the whole match. It is even rumored that they saw Besic just in front of the door of Messi’s room in the hotel after the match, waiting for him to go out.
Obala Naba Kulina street and Kriterion behind during the half time of the match.

There was a very good game in the first half an hour. But it began to be a bit boring afterwards. I went out to have fresh air next to Miljacka in the half time. Obala Bana Kulina was almost empty and only a few cars were passing on Sarajevo’s one of the main streets, which was opposite to the scene just before the match.
In the second half, Messi proved his talents and scored the second goal of Argentina at 65th. I personally had hopes for Bosnia but drowsiness was settled on Bosnian squad. In the last five minutes, they woke up from their sleep and a veteran player, Vedad Ibisevic scored at 85, increasing the hopes as well. But a second goal did not follow.

I witnessed something in Sarajevo after the match, which I have never seen before: Traffic jam at 2 am!

However, we reserve our hedonist attitudes for a victory against Nigeria for tonight!

The working paper that I submitted to FREE Research Conference in Wien in October

In October 25th and 26th, 2013, a conference titled "Identities" as a part of FREE - Football Research in an Enlarged Europe was organized in Vienna.

I have presented a paper about my PhD research, and it is published as a "working paper". The paper can be regarded as a short summary of my PhD thesis titled; "Football Fandom and Formation of
Cultural Differences in Bosnia: A Comparative Ethnographic Study on FK Željezničar and FK Sarajevo Fans in Sarajevo". If you want to read it, please click HERE.

And please visit HERE to see other working papers not only submitted in the conference in Vienna, but also includes those which were presented in the four other conferences as a part of FREE project.