Qatar World Cup better than Brazil 2014 and Tokyo Olympics, says Croatian journalist

Martina Validzic says fans from her country are delighted to be in Doha

Croatian TV reporter Martina Validzic. KT photo by Rituraj Borkakoty
Croatian TV reporter Martina Validzic. KT photo by Rituraj Borkakoty

By Rituraj Borkakoty in Doha

Published: Thu 1 Dec 2022, 11:27 PM

Wearing the bright red and white colours of the Croatian national team, Martina Validzic was drawing the Croat fans like Diego Maradona drew defenders with the ball glued to his magical left foot.

Martina is not a footballer. Nor is she the cheerleader of the Croatian team that just reached the round of 16 at the Qatar World Cup after a goalless draw with Belgium.

A reporter for Croatian National Radio and Television, Martina was the envy of every other reporter at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium as Croat fans were ready to dump anyone for a few minutes of screen time with her.

A passionate football lover, Martina wears her heart on her sleeve.

“I cannot be neutral. I am Croatian. It’s normal that I wear these colours and show my support for my country,” she told this reporter.

“I am wearing the Croatian jersey because I am doing live videos with Croatian fans most of the time. When they see a Croatian TV reporter in a Croatian jersey, they become very excited and emotional.

“I also want to give the Croatian team support. That’s why I wear it. It’s normal.”

Martina’s first big event as a journalist was the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

“This is my second World Cup football. My first one was in Germany (2006). It was a great experience, but I was a baby back then,” she said.

Martina’s resume as a sports journalist features some of the biggest sporting events in the world, including the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the Winter Olympics in Beijing.

So it was intriguing to know Martina’s perspective on the Qatar World Cup, especially when the western media, for some inexplicable reasons, hasn’t found anything positive to talk about the event.

And that’s despite the fans enjoying the event every day, the amazing atmosphere at the wonderful stadiums and the world-class transport system that has made it easier for them to move from one stadium to another.

Martina says even she has been baffled by the criticism in the Western media.

“I was talking a few days ago to my colleagues in Croatia when we were having a discussion about the negative press on Qatar,” Martina said.

“I told them, ‘you know what, in Brazil at the 2014 World Cup, there were places where you could not go walking because it was too dangerous’.

“In Tokyo, there were strikes all the time against the Olympic Games. Here we have found nothing, no problem at all.

“It’s a very safe country. I haven’t experienced any incident and also nobody among the Croatian fans and the media told me anything bad about the World Cup here. All the Croatian fans are really delighted to be here.”

Finally, Martina opened up about the mood in football-mad Croatia now that the team have reached the knockout stages.

“It’s crazy now. You know Croatia is very much like Brazil. Football is the most important thing in our country. Actually, it’s the second most important thing in our country,” she said.

What is the most important thing then?

“Love,” she giggled before rushing off to do another interview with Croatian fans.


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