The Croatian embassy in India has only two diplomats, one of whom is the ambassador himself.
New Delhi: Over a month of topsy-turvy football action, filled with surprises, is set to end Sunday when France takes on Croatia in the final of the FIFA Football World Cup in Moscow. Although the French start as favourites, it’s the Croatians who have created history by reaching the summit clash for the first time in their history.
In doing so, they are the second smallest country (in terms of population) to reach the finals after the great Uruguayan sides that won the world cup in 1930 and 1950.
Croatia has a population of just 4 million people. The Croatian embassy in India has only two diplomats, one of whom is the ambassador himself and it seems football is not a top priority for them at the moment.
Ambassador Petar Ljubicic told ThePrint that the number of Croatians in New Delhi is very “insignificant” and so the embassy was not holding any screening of the final match.
He, however, confidently predicted that his team, which finished third in the 1998 World Cup — the year France lifted the trophy for the first time — will lift the cup.
“The Croatians are the best team and they are definitely going to win the cup,” he said.
This tiny nation — located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe — on the Adriatic Sea, is however ranked among top 20 most popular tourist destinations in the world. Tourism dominates the Croatian service sector and accounts for up to 20 per cent of the country’s GDP. Last year, this sector generated €9.5 billion.
Croatia identifies India as a high-potential long-distance market in terms of tourism, media reports suggest.
More than 56,000 Indian tourists visited Croatia last year, marking 1.28 lakh overnight stays.
During the first six months of this year we have recorded 27.514 arrivals (growth of 85%) and 61.135 overnight stays (growth of 75%) from India. India is definitely a high-potential long-distance market for Croatian tourism in the future.
All set for Les Blues
The French embassy screening will begin at 8.30 pm on its premises in New Delhi’s Chanakyapuri. The event, which will see the presence of the ambassador to India Alexandre Ziegler, has a dress code — “Tous en bleu” that translates as “All in blue”. It is in honour of the French football team, dubbed the Les Blues, due to its trademark blue jersey.
The French embassy told ThePrint that it expects a large crowd of French expatriates and invited guests to attend the screening. It also said that there is a sizeable French presence in the national capital.
That was reflected in the atmosphere in the embassies of both countries in India Friday. While the French are upbeat and have organised a screening of Sunday’s showdown, with food and alcohol, there is no such fanfare at the Croatian Embassy, located at the West End colony in New Delhi.
ThePrint’s YouTube channel is now active and buzzing. Please subscribe here.