Clueless in Croatia

  • by Roger Brigham
  • Wednesday November 17, 2010
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Croatian Football Federation Vlatko Markovic
Croatian Football Federation Vlatko Markovic

Soccer is often criticized for not having enough offense. Well, take heart: two high level Croatia soccer officers in recent days churned out some of the most offensive comments to disgrace professional sports in years.

Vlatko Markovic, campaigning for a third term as head of the Croatian Football Federation, was quoted in the November 7 editions of Croatia's Vecernji List and the Serbian tabloid Vecernje novosti as saying, "While I'm a president of the Croatian Football Federation, there will be no homosexuals playing in the national team. Thank goodness only healthy people play football."

After the European Gay and Lesbian Sports Federation and other organizations condemned Markovic's comments and sought to have him raise the rainbow flag at Croatia's Euro 2012 qualifier match against Malta this week, Markovic issued a non-apology apology.

Blaming a "clumsy translation" of his homophobic remarks, Markovic told reporters last week he was "sorry that my comments have been in any way misinterpreted. I apologize to all those who were hurt by parts of my interview. My intention was in no way to insult or offend anyone ... I have absolutely nothing against members of any minority, especially not against those of homosexual orientation."

Would love to see how Markovic's comments could be translated in any way that is not offensive. Or an explanation of how he can be so ignorant of the existence of the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association ( or its world championships.

Lest anyone think Markovic's attitudes are isolated, fellow Croatian soccer executive board member Zdravko Mamic stuck his cleated foot in his mouth in a later press conference in Zagreb.

"They would also not play in my national squad," Mamic told reporters after a meeting of the Croatian soccer executive board. "What is wrong with that? I just do not see them attacking the barricades, putting their heads against opponents' studs. I can imagine them as ballet dancers and writers, but not as men in sliding tackles on the pitch."

Hey – easier to imagine that than to envision a jackass running a national sport. Guess we're both wrong.

Gay Games, Outgames elections

The Gay and Lesbian International Sports Association will hold its annual delegate congress this Saturday, November 20, via video teleconference. Members will select one new board member and five members of a working group for discussions with the Federation of Gay Games on a unified event for 2018. (See Nov. 11 Jocktalk.)

"We have had applications from all over the world, and have a good gender mix as well," Julia Applegate, chairwoman of GLISA told the Bay Area Reporter. "The new board of directors will confirm membership at our first meeting in December."

The FGG is in the process of voting on five representatives to join the FGG co-presidents on the joint working group. FGG delegates will choose from 23 individuals through an electronic ballot that allows 12 ranked choices. Balloting closes December 1.

GLISA has sanctioned the two World Outgames that have been held since 2006; the FGG sanctions the eight Gay Games that have been held quadrennially since 1982.

Interview videos

As part of its promotion of Out: The Glenn Burke Story , Comcast SportsNet Bay Area ran a two-part profile on my involvement as a gay athlete and coach, focusing on my work with local high school programs. I have received several requests for links to the video of those broadcasts. A low-quality video of Part One is at Part Two is at