Hajduk Split have had a terrible start to the season in Croatia, especially by their elite standards, sitting 14 points behind leaders Dinamo Zagreb after 12 games up until this weekend. Fan anger — though with no reports of any incidents or threats — prompted police to step-up security during training and at matches this week.
The discontent has grown to the extent that supporters, known as the Torcida, decided to boycott this week’s always-intense derby match against Dinamo Zagreb at Hajduk’s Poljud stadium. Attendance at a game that is usually the highlight of the Croatian season was just 3,500; more than that (4,000) showed up at the fans’ alternate viewing party, held at Hajduk’s old stadium, Stadion Stari plac, where candles were lit in hope of Hajduk’s resurrection as they watched the game on a big screen.
Well, OK, as is typical of Torcida, they lit more than just candles:
One Torcida official told the Croatian Times that “We will not be at the game because we also want to send a message to overpaid players who have disgraced Hajduk with their play.”
This left the atmosphere at the home game at the mercy of visiting team Dinamo Zagreb’s infamous supporters the Bad Blue Boys who according to Croatian Soccer Report, were for the first time “heard loud and clear” away at Hajduk. Dinamo has won four straight titles, and doubtless, this run of success for their biggest rivals is as much at the heart of Hajduk supporters’ discontent as recent poor results.
As it turns out, either the supporters’ dramatic action spurred the team to respond or their absence didn’t make any difference: Hajduk upset the league leaders 2-1.