When Croatia beat England in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday, football history was made.
Croatia, with a population of just 4.1 million, became the smallest country to reach a World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950. To give that some context, Croatia has pretty much the same population as Mauritania and Kuwait.
By the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, Croatia’s population could be reduced even further as a large number of young people continue to leave the country in search of a more prosperous life in the West.
The team’s run to the final in Russia has sparked debate about how such a small country has consistently produced so many great players – but if you expect a heart-warming story, it is more likely you will be left disappointed.
Ever since Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjman described athletes as the “country’s best ambassadors”, sport has largely become a matter of national identity. Read more