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Is Dinamo Zagreb’s Dominance Bad For Croatian Soccer?

May 31, 2020



Before I begin this post, I want to say that I am not a Dinamo fan, a Hajduk fan, or a fan of any specific team in Croatia. I follow the national team as my favorite team and enjoy when any Croatian club team is doing well.



Now to answer the question is Dinamo Zagreb’s dominance of the HNL bad for Croatian soccer as a whole? The short answer is: yes and no.



Let’s start with some of the good that Dinamo does for Croatian soccer. Dinamo is the leading producer of talent for the national team and is responsible for the development of some of the best Croatian players we have ever seen such as Luka Modrić, Robert Prosinečki, Mario Mandžukić, and Zvonimir Boban, just to name a few. Also, some of the best youth talents that we have now currently play for Dinamo. For example, Antonio Marin, Joško Gvardiol, and Tomislav Krizmanić are all tipped to be good players one day.



Now for the bad. Since the 2005-06 season, Dinamo has won the league title every season except for in 2016-17 when Rijeka narrowly beat them to win their first ever league trophy. Dinamo has become so much better than its competitors in the HNL that it is almost a certainty that they will win the league and everyone else is playing for second place. Why is this bad? Because it ruins the competition aspect of the sport and makes it less enjoyable to watch for the neutral fan. Yes, even some of the top leagues are essentially one team leagues with the likes of Bayern Munich, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain winning their respective leagues almost every season for nearly a decade now. The difference is that those leagues have more money to go around than the HNL does. I will not claim to know how much money each team gets in each league, but I am pretty sure that Dinamo gets less for winning the league than some relegation level teams receive at the end of their respective seasons.



The reason I bring this up is because the HNL gets little-to-no coverage. So basically, the only way for clubs like Hajduk Split, Rijeka, and Osijek to make money is to sell players that they’ve developed or qualify for continental tournaments like the Champions League and Europa League. This is another area where Dinamo Zagreb has recently helped to improve the standing of Croatian soccer as a whole. With their recent performance in the Europa League, they earned the HNL a second Champions League qualifying spot, allowing the team that finishes second place to also have a chance at qualifying for the Champions League.



Here’s the main problem. None of this is Dinamo’s fault. Dinamo is the best in Croatia because they have been running their club like a well-oiled machine. Whenever they sell one of their better players, it is almost always for a substantial fee and some of that money is usually invested back into the club either to buy a player that will likely be a useful player for the first team or to help fund the youth program. That is why they always have new talents emerging each year. They bought Bruno Petković and Mislav Oršić for small fees and basically helped them make it onto the national team. Not only that, but when they are inevitably sold to bigger teams, they are going to be sold for likely close to $10 million. Then you look at Dinamo’s realistic competitors and pretty much none of them can seem to replicate this strategy. Let’s use Hajduk Split as an example. Until recently, Hajduk Split rarely sold their players for good money. They are arguably the second most popular Croatian team, yet are miles away from Dinamo in terms of ability. Hajduk’s youth program is also a great youth program, but it just seems like once they have a top-level talent, they don’t really know what to do. For example, Andrija Balić was one of the top talents in all of Croatia a few years ago and they sold him to Udinese less than $4 million. Granted, so far he has not turned out to be great, but that’s not the point. Hajduk seemed to take the first decent offer they could get rather than maximizing the player’s impact before selling him for a good fee. Not only that, but they would then invest some of the money they received into players that are already in their prime and often times not even good enough to make Dinamo’s bench. However, as mentioned before, they have recently turned a corner. They have been getting more for their players like Nikola Vlašić, Ante Palaversa, and Domagoj Bradarić, and seem to be investing more in the future rather than just the present with purchases like David Čolina and Ivan Dolček. Rijeka and Osijek are not much different either. Their squads are filled mostly with journey-men that are 26-years-old or older who are unlikely to become much better and really improve the squad.



Yes it is good to have a mix of veterans and youth, but if anyone is truly going to make the HNL more competitive, it will likely be the team that decides to invest more heavily in their youth teams to start developing players on their own for often and in their scouting programs in order to find those hidden gems that will not only improve their team instantly, but also make them some money after being sold on. It will not be easy as Dinamo is so far ahead in these departments, but it is absolutely possible.



What do you think? Is Dinamo’s dominance of Croatia good, bad, or does it not matter?




Nikola Vukmanić
Posted By: Nikola Vukmanić 45 comments

  1. Maminjo says:


    I thought Mamić was using the National Team to give his Dinamo prospects undeserved exposure, in an attempt to sell them for his personal financial gain.

    If it wasn’t for Mamić, Croatia would have won the World Cup and Dinamo would challenge for every Champions League title (probably against Hajduk in the final).

  2. someguy says:

    Croatia is a developing country with a declining population, yet is the second smallest country to make it to a world cup final. I doubt they will ever consistently produce club teams that can compete well in Europe. If the current system can produce quality national team players, I’m happy.

  3. Maminjo says:


    I thought Mamić was pocketing the money and not re-investing it into Dinamo.

    I thought that Hajduk’s players were equally as talented as Dinamo’s players, but thanks to Mamić…our National Team is only comprised of Dinamo alumni players like Modric, Mandzo, Vrsaljko, Kovacic, Lovren ,Vida, and Brozovic, instead of Radosevic, Sharbini, Tomasov, Vukušić, Maloča, and Hrvoje Milić.

    We would have won multiple World Cups if we had calling up these other HNL players on our squad!
    (instead of the untalented losers we had starting for us)

    If we had only implemented the solution of hiring a “foreign” coach, who could not be controlled by Mamić, we would have been in such a better position than today.
    Nothing like a foreign (hopefully German) coach to right the ship, like Joachim Low. Totally would have fixed all this.

    That is a fact.

  4. Slavonac from Canada says:

    My two cents…

    Its a bad thing that Dinamo wins every year but we need to look at why they do and then come to some sort of conclusion.

    Over the years there have been several conspiracy theories which I believe have been bullshit theories. Mamic was the #1 tpoic for several years and it was suggested that he rigged the system in his favour…which I think it a cop-out.

    Dinamo did take their risks over the years. They made some good decisions and some bad but overall, they recognized that their edge on their competition would be through their players…ie…developing them and purchasing them.

    Development of their players came from their grass roots program. Making sure they were bringing in the best of the best from all local teams based in and around ZG. They also invested in their coaching staff at the grass roots level and anyone that knows anything about development, know’s that developing kids to be perfect in their basic skills and overall soccer aptitude at a young age is where things have to start. I have a few friends in ZG, one in particular has told me that youth soccer is very competitive and that kids are constantly fighting to stay at the better levels every single year. They don’t have the approach we do here in North America, its all about competing and winning your spot on the team. Kids at 10 years old play in tournaments against Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Milan…and they are often coached by ex professionals. They get academy sessions through coaches like Jozak and other well known and well regarded coaches/teachers of the game.

    Dinamo also invests in players, sometimes at a very young age…all we have to do is look at players like Vrsaljko (14 years old), Luka Modric (15 years old), Eduardo da Silva (16 years old) and the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of kids that have come through there and are from other regions of Croatia.

    I think Hajduk has had the same opportunities to produce kids but their system has been flawed for a helluva long time. Hajduk as an orgazation is worshipped in Dalmacija and other parts of Croatia. They don’t have a problem getting kids out to their camps and grass roots programs but they have a problem with how those programs are run and executed in my opinion. Then there’s the elephant in the room that few really want to drill down and talk about. The corruption within that club that has screwed them for decades. Its probably the same in Osijek, Rijeka and other clubs but I see Hajduk as having the biggest problem because they are by far the most popular club (or 2nd most popular) and have the most fan support than any club in Croatia…and yet they truly self implode year after year. If anything, some of these other clubs are doing a better job at developing and progressing forward. They have less players to draw from and yet they seem to have caught Hajduk in terms of how well they do year after year in the league.

    I’d like to see Hajduk do better because as Croatians, its better for all of us. I also like to see less of these fanboys from BBB and Torcida causing havoc at games, sending their goons onto the fileds to attack referees and having all out street fights…their nothing but criminals that serve their own interest.

    I’m happy to see Osijek slowly make strides, I’d love to see other clubs do the same.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Total low life, dishonest moron Lew Alcindor says blacks have to worry about white violence against them! Think about how RETARDED that statement is – half the male black population is in PRISON.

    Then there’s this “oppression” bullshit; meanwhile back on planet earth, blacks have a MUCH higher standard of living and are MUCH safer in white countries than black countries.

    And no NBA player condemns mass rioting, nobody in the NBA condemns China for CURRENTLY running Concentration Camps, b/c China pay$ and they those in the concentration camps aren’t black but they demand the White man care more about THEM then our own kind.

    I’m so sick and tired of these STUPID N######

  6. crnkovic says:

    Really good comments here. Apart from the obvious one. I know it’s a conterversial idea and probably couldn’t ever work in practice but what would a Balkan league look like? Which teams would be in it, how would it be run, and what would it do for the standard of our best clubs and young players development? Thoughts?

  7. Slavonac from Canada says:

    I feel like we’d be going a step back if we entered a “Balkan league”. Not necessarily because the quality would be lower but more so because we’d be raising everyone else’s level and the insecurity and drama that goes along with a league like that isn’t worth it

  8. Soul Champ says:

    Hey Vuki !!

    Love this post.

    Romeo Jozak.

    Every club in Croatia needs to have his level of mastery of youth development.

    You need put your money in a guy like him if you want to develop world class players.

    Dinamo is pure capitalism that produces excellence albeit at times at a soul cost.

    Hajduk is boring socialism that stunts the soul.

    Unfortunately where is HNS in this conversation?

    German FA stepped in to align the bundesliga academies to have a set standard that allows for all clubs to produce quality home grown players.

    Now the real conversation is how Mamić dominated both Dinamo and HNS.

    Yes this produced world class players and an elite national team but is there another level for Croatia to achieve?

    I feel there is.

    HNS as a responsibility to support grassroots programs throughout the entirety of Croatia.

    Zagreb cannot be the Croatian Moscow.

    I would love for all the ballers from Zadar to start an elite youth club and keep all the best local talent and build a world class academy.

    Hire a Romeo Jozak type.

    Invest some real money and in 5-10 years you could be competitive and selling polished young talent to next level leagues like Austria or Germany.

    Bring some muscle guys to ward off Dinamo poachers.

    Hajduk is so Split centric that they would sleep on your progress and before you know it you would run Dalmacija.


    All should invest in world class youth development.

    Jebi ga maybe Hajduk regains it’s majesty as gives another ALEN BOKSIC!!

  9. crnkovic says:

    @slavonac, for me the biggest worry would be the money coming into a league like that. It would be big money and that attracts the attention of corrupt politicians and dirty dealers. Can you imagine the politics involved in trying to keep that clean and ensure the money goes where its supposed to go. it would be mamic x 10. combine that with fans travelling all over the balkan reopening political wounds and yes….it would be very difficult.

    however, i’m not at all worried about raising the standard in other balkan countries. I want the Serbs to be good, the Bosnians, the Slovenes, the Albanians. Rivalry is healthy. We have the greatest talent in the region and it would be Croatian football, Croatian economy and Croatian players who would benefit the most. It would be top quality entertainment and great source of excitement

  10. Anonymous says:

    Notice how these antiWhites always invoke the name of God to justify their evil deeds, they always claim to be good people, that being a traitor and two faced hypocrite moron is good person, a loyal man who tells the truth is evil. The only thing I claim is the truth.

  11. Anonymous says:

    @”crnkovic”, how can you be loyal to Croatians and an antiWhite at the same time? What would you say about a black man who claimed loyalty to Nigerians and was antiBlack at the same time? – that he belongs in a mental institution?

  12. Stanko says:

    Anonymous watch a few you tube videos of the recent destruction and looting in America.
    Have you not noticed a theme ??
    I can’t seem to find any looting in Utah or Wyoming for some strange reason?

  13. Anonymous says:

    @Stanko, notice how the media are not blaming them? They are blaming “antifa” as though blacks have no control over their own actions, they are not to blame, just like animals; you don’t blame the dog, you blame the dog owner – this attitude is what I call anti white white supremacy.

  14. Suba says:

    Bravo slavonac well said brother

    Dinamo and Mamic should get all the accolades

    Proof is in pudding my friend

    Hajduk produces the best individual players and hopefully this would continue in the future and that because dalmatincis are the best footballers in the world

  15. Anonymous says:

    @Pro white guy

    You said you love the white cetniks because they’re nationalists, but the white anti-facist Croats are communists/wordists. How can you be loyal to the white Croats when you hate communists/wordists but love the cetniks?

    White cetniks hate white Croats and believe that the white Croats would be better off being white cetnik jocksniffers instead of white communist “antifacist” jocksniffers.

    Would you agree with that?

  16. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Add something cause your sarcasm sucks! Say something that is factual or at least factual to you rather than always being a victim!

  17. Suba says:

    Just playing your subversive game

    I know what you’re doing

    Vuki what was your real intention with post and what do you think because all it has done is archive more Hajduk and split bashings by the same suspects

  18. Slavonac from Canada says:

    What bashing man! Like I said, say something to add, something that’s factual, prove me wrong and maybe I’ll agree, make a point rather than say nothing except being a victim.

    I’d love to hear your opinion, not your whining and victim attitude.

    I said nothing wrong about Hajduk…nothing that wasn’t a fact! Maybe you can enlighten and tell me where I was wrong?

  19. Split says:

    Hajduk bashing?

    Come on don’t be so sensitive? They clearly deserve any bashing they receive. The management of that team is clearly a mess and disgrace.

  20. Suba says:

    Slavonac don’t make out that I make things up

    Stop being passive aggressive

    You have a real problem with alternative views especially when it comes to certain matters

  21. Slavonac from Canada says:

    OMG so you hate freedom of speech and someone with opinions that you can’t seem to debate? Is that where we are at? Should I just start saying Hajduk Split is the best team in Croatia and they’ve been robbed every year by Dinamo? Hajduk’s uprava are the golden people of Croatian soccer and we all owe everything to them for all they’ve done for Croatia?

    It’s sad to see you can’t come up with something…anything…that might suggest my comments are wrong!

    Croatia is a small country that has produced several good players and a club team that has done decent, all things considered.

    Go to any other country and you’ll find scandalous owners and even their league’s have had scandals…but no, only your team has has to suffer from some unjust incidents that you can’t even describe!

  22. Spilt says:

    Don’t waste your time. If he is unable to back up his claims he should remain silent.

  23. Actually Suba, my intention of the article was not to bash Hajduk, I genuinely want Hajduk to win the league sooner rather than later because it would force the other clubs to try harder to get better and we would have more competition and better quality players. I chose to talk about them because (as I wrote in the post) they are the second most popular Croatian team so of course they should be the first comparison. My uncle is actually a huge Hajduk fan and I have just as many Hajduk jerseys as I do Dinamo jerseys. And my uncle agrees that they’ve sucked recently and don’t run the club as well as they can. But you do you man.

    Thanks to all of you for your insightful comments as always. I tend to learn something when some of you guys post and I appreciate it. Also, thanks for the article Eric, it’s a good read and helps to explain my point of how the other teams needs to start qualifying for European competitions so they can make more money.

  24. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Your topic was good Nikola, we need to be able to discuss without emotions.

    I’ve said this many time’s before. Growing up I also loved Hajduk and I still love many of their players but I just can’t stand the way their club behave’s

  25. Maminjo says:

    You don’t have to be anti Dinamo to be pro Hajduk (as odd as that may sound).

    You can acknowledge that Dinamo is doing a good job and that Hajduk is doing a bad one.

    Problem is, many Hajduk fans are convinced that there is some correlation between these two things, and that Dinamo is succeeding due to some unfair bias given to them over Hajduk (and that is the reason they are where they are).

    Even if you assume that unfair bias exists… How do you explain turning down players like Modrić? Or letting multiple NT caliber players like Perišić, Pršo, Jelavić, leave for nothing over the years? Or selling every possible prospect you can on the first offer without considering the option of properly developing them and selling them at a premium?

    A referee awarding an unfair penalty kick is one thing. Constantly failing to hold on to talent is another.

    Their failures are their own.

    Hajduk is hurting our National Team with their incompetence.

    But so long as the fans refuse to acknowledge the problem, it will never go away and teams like Rijeka, Osijek and Gorica (yes, I said Gorica) will surpass them.

  26. CroatiaU14 says:

    as always, great post Vuki. Nothing but good things to say. Keep up the great work :)

    As for Dinamo, I feel that their dominance can be good and bad. I mean of course, they have one of the most successful youth programs in the world, but then again, it’d be nice if some other Prva Liga clubs got some recognition.

  27. Maminjo says:

    15 years ago, Dinamo was crap. So was Hajduk. So was Rijeka.

    Half the HNL teams were going on strike for delayed payments, and some teams like Varteks, Kamen Ingrad and (I believe) Karlovac even folded.

    I remember when Dinamo qualified for Europa (I think in 2005), and it was such a BIG deal.

    Since then, most of the HNL teams got better…but Dinamo got a lot better.

    What’s most important is that the overall health of the HNL and each HNL team is improving (which it has).

    Dinamo simply being a lot better, isn’t hurting everyone else.

    Teams like Rijeka and Osijek are still holding their own against solid European competition like Milan, Sevilla, Stuttgart, Eindoven, Standard Liege, etc. Very impressive results when compared to what would have happened 15 years ago.

    Actually, it’s helped a lot of teams like Osijek and Rijeka who have benefited from loan deals for Dinamo players who have been developed well by Dinamo’s youth system, but they have no place in Dinamo’s first team.
    Lots of players at Rijeka and Osijek were Dinamo products.

    Like mentioned earlier, Bayern is significantly better than the rest of the Bundeliga clubs in terms of talent…but teams like Dortmund, Leverkusen, Eintracht, and RB Leipzig are still great clubs.

    The gap only makes the competition itself less interesting.

    But the HNL isn’t making any money off of attendance and TV viewership anyway. They make money off their transfers and participation in European Leagues.

    Parity would be nice…but not the most important thing right now.

  28. Soul Champ says:

    “Hajduk is hurting our National Team with their incompetence.”


    Hajduk is the most historic club in the region.

    If Hajduk gets going again then HNS will be unstoppable.

    Next time sign Luka Modrić and Josip Skoblar for that matter.

  29. Slavonac from Canada says:

    …and that’s the attitude they need to have in order to be successful. They were once “the” team and have now become run by wankers. It’s not the players fault, it’s the organization.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Any riots going on in Zagreb like in Paris?

    War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Diversity is our Greatest Strength!

  31. Anonymous says:

    @pro croatian guy, I’m still waiting for you to answer my question: How can you be pro croatian and anti white at the same time. Just answer it and I’ll be glad to answer your questions b/c I DO HAVE ANSWERS.

  32. Anonymous says:

    These big tough guy militaristic american football coaches are showing themselves to be the the biggest moral cowards in the land. Listen to this, a college football coach apologizes for repeating a racial slur that he only repeated to tell other people not to use it; in his groveling he proclaimed he had no right to repeat it. Thereby declaring himself a slave. “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” – yea okay.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Banning comments are a form of running away. Why are you such a coward?

    And what do you mean by “racist”, how are Croats “racist”?

  34. Anonymous says:


    I meant mine are getting blocked and your’s aren’t, I guess my comments bother these people more!

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