Saturday, 21 July 2018
Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas - The editor and big chief of The Dubrovnik Times. Born in the UK he has been living and working in Dubrovnik since 1998, yes he is one of the rare “old hands.” A unique insight into both British and Croatian life and culture, Mark is often known as just “Englez” or Englishman. He is a traveller, a current affairs freak and a huge AFC Wimbledon fan.

Email: mark.thomas@dubrovnik-times.com

It isn’t often that I am lost for words, but the welcome the World Cup heroes received was truly inspiring. The power of football, especially in this part of the world, is fascinating. More people welcomed Modric and his team home than celebrated Croatia becoming a free and independent country.

In unites young and old, all social backgrounds, religions and makes friends from enemies. This squad have done more to bring Croatia together than any other event in the short history of Croatia. Football will not save Croatia but it will act as a motivating force that will show that there is a bright future.

If this isn’t a prime example of what can be done with hard work, passion, belief and utter determination then I really don’t know what is!

This summer, these 30 days of the tournament, have broadcast Croatia as a world power, as a country with a heart much bigger than the geographical size of the country. when you look at the clear facts Croatia is the 124th country in the world in terms of size. But for the past weeks it has been as big as a continent. And for me one of the most important factors was that the team was led by a coach who showed compassion, dignity with a capital D and a sense of calmness that is not normally known in these parts. I lower my hat to Mr. Dalic, he is truly a breath of fresh air. He even talked about the mistakes that he had made. This type of leadership is exactly what the country needs.

So now we are riding on the crest of a wave of positivity and optimism. How can we keep this wave rolling forward? Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power, once said the American philosopher William James. Just imagine if we had the same attributes that “vatreni” have shown in other walks of life. There would be no end to our success.

These magical red and white squares that have dominated our TV screens for the past month could, no should, be branded as a symbol for the best that Croatia offers. Why not relabel our leading products with the colourful squares…the whole world knows them already….it would make perfect marketing sense.

Where would we be if we had just eleven politicians of the same calibre as our football team? Croatia is a small country, it will always be a small country, but it has a heart and soul that far outweighs its size. This positive energy, if channelled in the right direction, can move mountains! It has moved almost half a million people onto the streets of the capital. It can be a wind of change. A source of inspiration. To just leave this summer as a fond memory would be a cardinal mistake. It unquestionably shows that if you put the right people in the right position and give them the support and tools to do the job that they will do it to a world class level.

vatreni 2018 on bus

Croatia has shown the world in the best possible way that it can do anything if it puts its mind to it. Our only limitations are limitations we put on ourselves. And the outpouring of patriotism has been, for the most part, just that patriotism and not nationalism. For a month we have forgotten about the cancer of corruption, the frustration of bureaucracy, the conflict of interests, the exodus of young people, the unrequired multiple layers of government, the ineffective legal system. All of our problems have been swept under the carpet whilst we have been fascinated watching a ball being kicked around a football pitch.

Whilst some say it’s sad that the sport has distracted us from our problems I believe that it has somehow managed to show us there is another way, there is hope. It was much more than football, than sport. Football, more than any other sport if a reflection of a society. Brazil plays as if they are dancing the samba, German are efficient and hardworking, the Italians are artistic and temperamental, Iceland full of fighting spirit, and now Croatia has had the opportunity to highlight its best characteristics in front of half of the entire population of the world.

Thanks to Dalic we didn’t show arrogance, thanks to the team we showed absolute belief, thanks to the supporters we showed pride and loyalty and thanks to Kolinda we showed our hearts. This has been a monumental summer for Croatia. Now carpe diem!

The old adage “there’s no business like show business” has a rival “there’s no business like football.” The 2018 World Cup and the success of the Croatia team has brought recognition on a global scale, and no more so than online recognition. In a world dominated by social media Croatia has been the kings of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Croatia might have lost to France in the final but they have won on many other off-field areas.

Whilst Croatia is known as a tourist destination, and has gained some unexpected marketing through productions such as Game of Thrones, it is still seen in many parts of the world as an exotic destination. Indeed, many people would still struggle to locate Croatia on a world map. However, the World Cup in Russia could well change all that. As half of the world tuned in to watch Croatia take on France a huge number were also “double-screening” and asking Google for more info on the finalists.

google trends world cup final 2018

Google Trends showing seacrhes during the final in Moscow - Screnshot 

Data from Google Trends showed that during the World Cup web searches for the keyword “Croatia” were at their highest levels in history. Google trends has a ranking system to show the popularity of a keyword at any one time, this is based on a zero to 100 value. At the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where Croatia were knocked out in the group stages, there ranking score was 28. However, reaching the final this year meant that the score hit the roof, almost literally, as it reached 100.

And it wasn’t only Google that saw a Croatian explosion. During their semi-final with England, in a one-hour period, 350,000 tweets were sent with the hash tag “Croatia.” This number of tweets increased on the night of the final against France, by the end of the final evening more than one million tweets containing the word “Croatia” had been sent.

Other figures estimate that more than 60 million online articles about Croatia were read during the World Cup. This was more exposure to more people than ever before in the country’s short 28-year history. “After the hosts Russia there can be no doubt that the country that benefited the most in terms of positive promotion from the World Cup was Croatia,” commented a PR expert. And in the final Croatia may have lost on the pitch but online they were the winners. Google data highlights that 60 percent of searches during the final were related to Croatia and 40 percent to France.

The good news promotion surrounding the Croatian success at the 2018 World Cup in Russia just keeps on coming. The exploits of the team seem to have inspired the whole world. At The Dubrovnik Times we have literally been inundated with positive messages for the team and the coaching staff. But this latest story from South America surprised us all.

luka modric peru birth certificate

After Croatia dramatically knocked out England in the semi-finals of the World Cup a family in Peru were so impressed with the Croatian midfield genius and captain that they decided to name their new born son Luka Modric.

France may have won the tournament but Croatia have won the hearts of the whole world.

The family from Cajamarca, a city in the northern Andes in Peru, named their child after Luka Modric and a copy of his birth certificate was posted on Twitter as proof. Apparently there are already 870 people with the name Cristiano Ronaldo in Peru as well as 232 people named Lionel Messi. And now there is one Croatian name – Luka Modric.

The Croatian national football teams' efforts in the 2018 World Cup in Russia have certainly not gone unnoticed by the world's media.

Numerous articles, videos, photos and interviews have been published on the “Vaterni” and their dramatic campaign that saw them reach the final in Moscow against France.

This latest video has attracted quite a lot of attention on social media and is well worth checking out.

Croatia’s impressive 2018 World Cup campaign has certainly led to a stream of positive PR and pages of international media, but it seems it could also motivate foreign investment.

The Minister of the Economy, Darko Horvat, commented yesterday that interest in investing in Croatia was growing and that the football team’s success at the World Cup in Russia meant that the country was much better known around the world.

He said that Croatia had opened its doors to investments over the past few months and that this move could well mean the creation of between 10,000 and 15,000 new jobs over the next five years.

Responding to the journalists’ comments that it didn’t seem as if anyone was lining up to invest in Croatia, Horvat said: “You will see what will happen over the next months in that area.”

A reader of The Dubrovnik Times had a surprise this morning when you noticed this hammock swinging in the morning sunshine between Kupari and Srebreno in Zupa.

It would appear that a tourist doesn’t ned Airbnb or booking.com, just two relatively strong trees and he has his bed for the night. It is however against the Croatian law to camp “wild” and without registering yourself as a guest in the country.

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Legendary England footballer and businessman David Beckham is currently on holiday in Croatia and Victoria has been having fun on Instagram.

David and Victoria have recently celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary and the happy couple have decided to live it up a little on the Adriatic coast. The family vacation, which appears to be in the north of the Croatian coast, has given the famous pair a chance to spend more time with their children, 19-year-old Brooklyn, 15-year-old Romeo, 13-year-old Cruz and 7-year-old Harper. And it certainly looks like a happy Beckham family from the joyous photos that have appeared on social media.

beckham family in croatia

One of the highlights of the family swim in the Croatian Adriatic was David slipping off a giant inflatable swan. Victoria uploaded this comical video onto her Instagram account with the comment "Embarrassing dad slide," and "No wonder they sailed off and left him!"

After renting a speedboat the family headed out into the sea and later the boys were spotted on jet skis.

Google will be out on the streets of Croatia this summer to update their Google Maps. From the end of July for two months the special Google cars will be covering many of the roads in the country and recording for their Google Maps “Street View” application which allows users a 360-degree view of all streets.

In a statement from Google they point out that they will do everything possible to protect people’s privacy. Once all the photos have been collected Google will use specially designed technology to blur people’s faces, number plates and other potentially sensitive information.

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Tuesday
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Wednesday
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