By Anja Vladisavljevic
Months after the Croatian national football team won glory with a silver at the World Cup in Russia, the sport is in the headlines for very different reasons – with fresh corruption indictments.
The Croatian State Attorney’s Office in Osijek, eastern Croatia, on Wednesday filed an indictment against Dejan Lovren, a Croatian football player and Liverpool defender, for giving a false statement during the corruption trial of Zdravko Mamic, the former chief of the Dinamo Zagreb club, and three co-defendants, on September 1, 2017.
The Liverpool defender is charged with lying about signing documents relating to his 2010 transfer from Dinamo Zagreb to Lyon in France.
After news broke about the indictment, Lovren wrote on his Instagram profile that he only learned of the indictment after his training and defended his innocence.
“I want to say this to all, especially to my family, friends, supporters in my homeland, my club and my club’s fans in England, that I am innocent. I did not commit any criminal offence. I am proud of my life, every step of my life, everything that my family and I have created,” he wrote.
Luka Modric, Real Madrid midfielder and the Croatian team captain, testified together with Lovren in the Mamic case as witnesses.
Both have been charged with giving false testimony. Modric was charged in the same case in March 2018.
It has been said that Dinamo paid Modric a part of his transfer fee, most of which he then returned to Mamic and his family in cash; Lovren, meanwhile, allegedly forwarded the entire amount he earned from his transfer immediately to Mamic’s account.
On June 6, a court in Osijek, in a first-degree ruling, sentenced the controversial football mogul Zdravko Mamic, his brother and two others, to a total of 18-and-a-half years in prison for syphoning off money from football clubs and damaging the state budget.
In May, it was discovered that among the documents Mamic handed to the Osijek court, which he claimed were “a proof of his innocence”, was a paper with instructions to Lovren about what to say in court.
One day before the sentence, Mamic – who also has Bosnian citizenship – fled there to avoid imprisonment at home.
Resale of tickets for the World Cup final also a subject of investigation
FIFA is exploring the possible resale of World Championships tickets, allegedly traded by officials of the HNS, the Croatian Football Federation, the Croatian website Telegram has confirmed.
The regional television network, N1, announced on Wednesday that DORH, the Croatian State Attorney, has ordered the Zagreb police to investigate the alleged sale of tickets for the final match of the World Championship in Russia between Croatia and France that the HNS received from FIFA. Those tickets were not for public sale but for “purchase by members of the football family, primarily to current team members and staff members”.
Meanwhile, Drago Cosic, one of the most famous Croatian sports TV commentators, was fired recently. He allegedly participated in reselling World Cup tickets that HRT, Croatian public television, got from the European Broadcasting Union on the black market. His lawyer has denied his client’s guilt.