PM Plenkovic: World Cup gives us special kind of optimism

PM Plenkovic: World Cup gives us special kind of optimism Izvor: N1

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic gave an interview to N1 television on Thursday, in which he commented on the unprecedented success of Croatia's national football team, which beat England on Wednesday night to book a place in the World Cup final against France.

Plenkovic said Croatia needed a national stadium, and said he respected and supported everything the team did in this year's edition of the world's premier football tournament.

He said attending the semi-final match against England was a "unique experience," and congratulated manager Zlatko Dalic and his team.

"It looks like that whenever they play 120 minutes, they play better than anyone else," Plenkovic commented, referring to the fact that last three matches played by Croatia in the knockout rounds went into extra time.

He was asked to comment on the need to build a new national football stadium. The national team currently play most of their home matches at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, a large but dilapidated venue which is home to Dinamo Zagreb football club.

"The state of our football infrastructure is not the best. It is a fact that we have players plying their trade at the best clubs in the world, that Croatia is recognised as a country that is a football force, we must partner up with the football federation and work towards building a new national stadium," Plenkovic said.

"We should analyse that, find a way to solve this, without spending enormous sums of money on it. It doesn't need to be too expensive or large, and that's what we will work on. This is now a good opportunity to analyse the matter seriously, and there are a few models that could be used to solve that problem," Plenkovic added, and said that a plan includes building a modern stadium with a 30,000-seat capacity, which could become the national team's permanent home.

Plenkovic said that the work footballers have done to promote Croatia in the world cannot be compared to anything else.

"I have said several times that the most important thing is to create a positive climate in the society. Success in sports, brilliant players, when these things are on display in a tournament like this, it creates a special kind of optimism, and this could be applied to all other aspects of society," Plenkovic told N1 in front of the government building in Zagreb, wearing a Croatia jersey.

Plenkovic was then asked to compare the national team - where only the best get to play - with public administration, where many are perceived to get jobs and posts via political party membership.

"The national team has only the best players in it, but they are selected out of only the ones playing football. In public life, only the ones who are willing to engage publicly can play. Taking responsibility to work on something that is a common good, is something an individual must decide for himself... Everybody who wants to make a contribution to this should engage, and in the end the team is made up of those who won the election" Plenkovic said.

He also offered his thoughts on Sunday's final against France.

"A goal difference of one would suffice. Against the French we now have a historic chance for payback. If we end up winning, that would be brilliant, we have a team that could do that, what they showed so far gives us great confidence. It's a team that has a winning mentality," he said.

"This is their win, we all must be happy that we are here to witness them reach a World Cup final. These moments are unforgettable, we must relish every second of them," said Plenkovic.

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