Saturday, August 21, 2004

RIP Stjepan Spajić (Stjepan Spajic) (1952 – 2004)

Stjepan Spajić (Stjepan Spajic), controversial, outspoken and iconic owner of Hrvatski dragovoljac soccer club, has succumbed to heart failure this morning.

Spajić, who had earned a rank of Croatian Army brigadier during the war, was, just like his club, associated with far right of Croatian politics. Many of his statements were problematic, even for those who aren't very fond of "political correctness".

Even more problematic were some of Spajić's business practices and his virtual admission that certain results in Croatian soccer competitions had little do with sport. "I paid the referee only to secure fair game, not to buy him off" is one of Spajić's legendary statements.

On the other hand, even those who didn't like his politics or reputation, liked Spajić's handling of media. His public statements and interviews were always extraordinary. One of his last appearances was together with Ljubo Ćesić-Rojs (Ljubo Cesic-Rojs) in Drugo lice, Nova TV's talk show. The way he explained his stance on many important political, economic and cultural issues made the show's host Petar Vlahov almost fall from the chair out of laughter.

Croatia needs more people like that. He is going to be missed.


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