ZAGREB, May 7, 2020 - A few days after the partial reopening of training for professional athletes, Croatian sport faces a twofold challenge: to prepare for a prudent return to sports and give financial support to deal with the instability of the sports sector and all its employees.
On April 19, the Croatian government issued new measures to preserve jobs in the industry. In the preceding weeks, the harmful effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have affected numerous Croatian clubs, causing impossibility to pay staff wages.
JOB LOSS Among the victims of this Covid-driven economic crisis, the two renowned basketball teams Cibona Zagreb and BC Zadar fired all employees on April 2nd and 6th respectively. The CEO of Cibona Domagoj Cavlovic has ensured a reintegration of staff when the crisis is over. However, it is difficult to clearly establish if and when this will happen, as the club has been navigating uncertainty since December with players left without wages.
EMERGENCY FUNDS To cope with the social and financial troubles, the Croatian Parliament has enacted the Law on Amendments to the Sports Act to assist the sports sector.
The adopted amendments enable the head of the state administration body in charge of sports to preserve jobs. All clubs will be able to claim salary compensation for sports workers - coaches, trainers, instructors, physical therapists and other administrative and technical staff.
For this measure of assistance in the budget of the Central State Office for Sport, HRK 40 million (533.000 Euros) has been secured through the transfer of funds, and support may be provided for the month of March up to HRK 3250 (435 EUR) and for the months of April and May up to HRK 4000 (530 EUR). Support will be available for those workers who have employment contracts and do not receive pay from other public sources. According to the estimates, this measure should cover about 3000 sports staff, although the exact number will be clarified, when all the applications are received.
MONITORED TRAININGS Simultaneously with economic support, sporting activities are gradually re-opening under the eyes of the Public Health Institute, which is in charge to follow the epidemiological situation.
Football Club Hajduk Split set an early start on April 14 allowing players to train in the stadium under a strict regulation – only two players at a time on two separate grounds. On April 24, special training conditions were guaranteed for Olympians to resume activity. Three days later, the training ban was lifted for about 3,000 athletes of first and second categories competing in individual sports and senior sports teams.
FOOTBALL AWAITS ‘OK’ In addition, the Executive Board of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS) proposed to resume the season on May 30 with the Cup semi-finals, which was interrupted in March, while the First League is expected to set off on June 6. All matches will be played behind closed doors. A final confirmation now stands in the hands of the Civil Protection Directorate. With regard to minor leagues and junior categories, they will not continue in the 2019/2020 season.
 Giorgia Rampi - AIPS Media