Ponedjeljak, 15 travnja, 2024

Croatian Priests become Futsal Champions of Europe

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(Photo credit: Father Krešimir Žinić / Hrvatska Katolička Mreža)

Croatian Priests become Futsal Champions of Europe (Photo credit: Father Krešimir Žinić / Hrvatska Katolička Mreža)

Croatian Priests have clinched the 16th Futsal European Championship in Albania, with a perfect record of five victories in a row. 

The Croatian team consisted of 13 priests from almost every region of Croatia. Throughout the tournament, they celebrated holy masses daily, led by bishops.

The Croatian Priests futsal team defeated Poland 3-2 in the final.

“After 18 years, we have become European champions once again,” said the coach, Father Krešimir Žinić, to Hrvatska Katolička Mreža (Croatian Catholic Radio).

“We are priests first, and then footballers, not footballers who happen to be priests. Thus, in our encounters, the priestly atmosphere is evident, showcasing what we represent,” stated Father Žinić.

The European Championship featured 17 teams divided into five groups. Croatia advanced by defeating Albania (2-0) and Slovenia (3-1) in the group stage, Hungary (4-2) in the quarterfinals, and Romania in the semifinals.

“The draw favoured us, allowing us to face weaker teams initially rather than the favourites. Our goal was the semifinals and a chance to compete for a medal, whatever God may grant us,” the coach remarked.

Besides sports, such tournaments provide priests with an opportunity to exchange pastoral experiences and discuss the situations in their respective countries.

The top scorer of the Euro was Croatian representative Father Josip Papak. The captain of the Croatian team is Father Domagoj Matošević, the rector of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bistrica.

 

Croatia has participated in every European Championship since its inception, winning the first two editions, finishing as runners-up three times, and earning four bronze medals.

The selection has been active since 1995 and has participated in numerous charity matches throughout its history. The European Championship has been held in Croatia twice, in 2006 in Zagreb and in 2017 in Vukovar.

The next European Championship will be held next year, hosted by Hungary.

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