Open main menu

On 17 October 1990 Croatia hosted the United States in an unofficial international friendly in Zagreb's Maksimir stadium. Held on the eve of the nation's independence from Yugoslavia, this was Croatia's first international match in the modern era.[1]

However, the match was considered unofficial by FIFA, because Croatia at that time was not affiliated to FIFA. Croatia was readmitted to FIFA on 3 July 1992.[2]



With the abolishing of the one-party political system in SFR Yugoslavia in 1990, SR Croatia's (constituent republic within the Yugoslav federation) first parliamentary elections were held over two rounds of voting on 22 April and 7 May 1990 resulting in an overwhelming victory for the nationalist Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) led by Franjo Tuđman. With the rising nationalism and ethnic tensions, several incidents took place at football matches in SR Croatia over the coming months.

Only six days later, on Sunday, 13 May 1990, a riot broke out at Maksimir Stadium during a Yugoslav First League match between the Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb and the Serbian club Red Star Belgrade. Dinamo midfielder 21-year-old Zvonimir Boban attacked a policeman and got a 6-month suspension by the Yugoslav FA (FSJ), causing him to miss the 1990 FIFA World Cup as well as the pre-tournament friendlies.[3]

At one of those friendlies on 3 June 1990 versus the Netherlands at Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb (Yugoslavia's last preparation match before the World Cup) local Croatian fans booed the Yugoslav anthem and players, while cheering for the opposing Netherlands side which won the match 0-2.

On 26 September 1990, several weeks into the following Yugoslav League season, another incident broke out, this time in Split. Hajduk Split's home match against Partizan Belgrade at Poljud Stadium was cancelled after local fans stormed the pitch, chased Partizan players off, tore down the Yugoslav flag from the official mast and burned it.[4]


The United States was on a tour of Europe where the team was already scheduled to play Poland. Croatian businessman Jure Klarić financed the US$90,000 needed for the Americans to subsequently travel to Zagreb.[5]

The exhibition took place on 17 October 1990. The match took place at the same time as the final of the 1990 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship, in which several young Croatian talents played for Yugoslavia (Zvonimir Boban, Davor Šuker, Robert Jarni, Igor Štimac, Robert Prosinečki and Alen Bokšić). The exhibition was permitted by the Croat secretary of the Football Association of Yugoslavia, Ante Pavlović, who suspended the decision of the association's own committees regarding the match.[6]

Despite conflicting with the Yugoslav juniors' match in the European finals, the match drew 30,000 spectators.[1] Croatia won the match 2–1.[1] The match was officiated by a group of Italian officials consisting of Sergio Coppetelli, Dario Boemo, and Giancarlo Dal Forno, with the Croat Atif Lipovac being the fourth official.[7]

The match marked the debut of the Croatian national team's checkered jersey, designed by Miroslav Šutej who also designed the modern Flag of Croatia and the banknotes for the Croatian kuna.[8]

Match infoEdit

Croatia  2 – 1  United States
Asanović   29'
Cvjetković   33'
(Report) Dayak   80'
Attendance: 30,000
Referee: Sergio Coppetelli (Italy)
United States



  1. ^ a b c Croatia - International Matches 1990-1995 Archived June 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, RSSSF
  2. ^ "History". Croatian Football Federation. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
  3. ^ The Day Yugoslav Soccer Died
  4. ^ Knjiga o najvećim Hajdukovim utakmicama
  5. ^ Modri zakon o oplodnji, Jutarnji list
  6. ^ Ante Pavlović odlikovan Ordenom Reda časti
  7. ^ Hrvatska - SAD 2:0
  8. ^ Mario Duspara; Tanja Simić (20 February 2006). "Hrvatske kocke opet modni hit" [Croatian chequy are fashionable again] (in Croatian). Nacional (weekly). Archived from the original on 30 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit