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FIFA World Cup final match: How some DU students plan to be Croatians by proxy

As one-time FIFA World Cup champion France meets first-time finalist Croatia on July 15, excitement is peaking among Delhi expats. We meet the tiny Croatian community in the Capital and also feel the French fervour.

delhi Updated: Jul 14, 2018 16:45 IST
Ankita Rawat
Ankita Rawat
Hindustan Times
FIFA,World Cup,Croatia
Dr Željana Puljiz Šostik, visiting lecturer in Croatian language, Faculty of Arts, Delhi University, along with her students who are supporting Croatia. Her son (third from right) is part of the ‘team’.

It’s July 15 on Sunday, and for anyone who’s into football, that is D-Day. It’s a particularly exciting day for the tiny Croatian community in India — this is the first time that their country has made it to the FIFA World Cup final, and they face mighty France, having beaten another strong footballing country, England.

Most of the Croat expats in Delhi have gone home to Europe for summer, but we met with Dr Željana Puljiz Šostik, visiting lecturer in Croatian language, Faculty of Arts, Delhi University, who’s going to cheer for her team with her family — and her students, too, will become Croatians by proxy on match day.

The cheerful professor isn’t a soccer fan as such, but has become one on this proud occasion. She says, “Croatia is a small country, and with soccer, we see some hope and future. Back home, our whole nation is on cloud nine. Me, my husband and my kids plan to watch the match in our North Delhi home. We’ll support, we’ll cheer and scream!”

Željana’s two sons, Marko (10) and Stjepan (13), are most kicked about the final match.

About her DU students, who’re sportingly donning the Croatia team jersey for the World Cup final match, Željana says, “It’s extremely interesting that my students will be supporting Croatia. I’m touched by the gesture.”

On the other hand, French expats, who are in plenty in the Capital, are in celebratory mood already, as July 14 was Bastille Day (a turning point in the French Revolution of 1789).

French Embassy official Marie Tissier tells us, “I’m so excited about the game. My friends and I plan to watch it at the embassy; we’ll be there an hour early, to enjoy the pre-game atmosphere, surrounded by all the French and Indian supporters! Allez les Bleus!”

Anaïs Cayzac will head to the Embassy of France for celebrations.

Anaïs Cayzac, administrator at Alliance Française, says, “Croatia is a big team and has been playing really well, but I’m excited about meeting the French community in Delhi at the embassy and cheer for my country.”

Those who can’t make it to the Embassy of France for celebrations are still excited about — hopefully — beating Croatia. Philippe Gasiglia, a French engineer in Delhi, says, “This World Cup is something amazing for us. It’s much more than just football. Following les Bleus gives us happiness and reminds us how French people can be united all over the world. Now I pray that we beat this wonderful team of Croatia and bring the World Cup home, 20 years after the 1998 victory.”

Julian Hoarau, who works in tourism, says, “As a French national, I support France for the final, of course. The plan is to gather with friends at home, paint our faces in blue, white and red, and win the game!”

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First Published: Jul 14, 2018 16:42 IST