Senior Sports Editor
THE Croatian Football Federation have said Zdravko Logarusic acquired a UEFA Pro Licence in 2013, which remains valid until June this year, and the coach did not deceive the ZIFA leadership, when he applied for the job to coach the Warriors.
The controversial gaffer presented the UEFA PRO Licence badge, as part of his coaching credentials, when he applied for, and was chosen, for the biggest coaching job in local football, in January last year.
“Zdravko Logarusic has been appointed as the Warriors coach on a two-year performance-based contract,’’ ZIFA announced on their official Twitter account, on January 29, last year.
“The Croatian has a UEFA Pro Licence and a CAF A licence He has coached the national team of Sudan and top clubs in Ghana, Kenya, Angola and Tanzania.’’
However, our sister newspaper, Chronicle, yesterday claimed ZIFA had launched investigations, to verify the authenticity of the UEFA Pro Licence badge, which he presented to the association, when he applied for the job.
Yesterday, social media exploded into overdrive, after the article hit the newspaper’s online platforms.
The Pro Licence badge has a two-year expiry period and has to be renewed every time it expires.
However, the Croatian Football Federation, through their head of communications, Tomislav Pacak, told The Herald, there was nothing wrong with Loga’s badge.
The CFF, just like other football controlling bodies around the world, are the issuing authority, when it comes to these coaching badges.
“Good to hear from you, we’re happy to see your team performing well with our coach Zdravko Logarušic,’’ Pacak responded, in an email, to questions from The Herald.
“We hereby confirm that Mr Logarušic earned his UEFA Pro Licence in 2013 at the Croatian Football Federation Football Academy and his current badge (identification card) is valid until 30 June 2021.
“So, from our side, there is absolutely nothing suspicious about his licence.’’
Earlier, the UEFA media and public relations desk had directed this newspaper to the Croatian football authorities.
“With regards to your inquiry, we refer you to the Croatian Football Federation, as they are the licensor and could inform you on this topic,’’ they said.
The UEFA Pro Licence is issued by the European football federations and remains valid, for two years, and has to be renewed after it expires.
It is the highest coaching certification available and follows the completion of the UEFA “B” and “A” Licence badges.
Given it is issued by the member associations themselves, and not UEFA, there has been concern, in some circles, that some officials have abused their positions, to provide some coaches with the badge, without them having satisfied the processes.
Loga also told our sister newspaper that he acquired his Pro Licence in 2013 “after many impressive perfomances and grades in lower level courses”.
He then forwarded a copy of his licence, which was signed by three officials, from the Croatian Football Federation.
However, it’s the signature of one of those officials, Damir Vrbanovic, which appears to have raised eyebrows.
Vrbanovic, who had been the president of the Croatian Football Federation, since July 2012, was deposed from his position after he was sentenced to serve a prison term, in a high-profile corruption case.
The case also involved the transfer of superstar, Luca Modric, to Tottenham Hotspur.
Vrbanovic lost an appeal last month against his conviction and a three-year sentence, in a ruling by the Croatian Supreme Court.
He also was removed from the UEFA National team Competitions Committee, where he had served, since 2019.
Vrbanovic, who was also a former executive at leading Croatian side, Dinamo Zagreb, was sentenced to three years in jail in a case which also sucked in Zdravko Mamic, who was sentenced to six years and six months in prison.
Mamic was also ordered to pay back about US$8.14 million.
His brother Zoran Mamic, a coach who was preparing for Dinamo Zagreb’s Europa League match against Spurs, at the time of the judgment, was sent to prison to serve four years and eight months.
In all, more than US$12.5 million, was believed to have been embezzled in this high-profile corruption case involving the transfer of Dinamo Zagreb players to other parts of Europe.
Modric, and former Liverpool centreback Dejan Lovren, were some of the players cited in the questionable deals. Lovren’s case involved his move from Dinamo Zagreb to French club Lyon.
The officials are believed to have defrauded the club, pocketing millions of dollars, in a racket which also involved tax fraud.
The initial judgment, and conviction, was passed just before the 2018 FIFA World Cup, after both Lovren and Modric testified in court but, on appeal, the sentences were suspended.
Zdravko Mamic fled to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
However, for all the distractions brought about by the case, Modric managed to lead Croatia to the final of the 2018 World Cup, in a success story which was celebrated around the globe. The Croats lost that final 2-4 to France but did enough to charm the world and received a heroes’ welcome on their return home.
Loga guided the Warriors past the line, in their 2021 AFCON qualifiers, picking the final four points needed for them to book their ticket to Cameroon, with one win and a defeat, in his four matches in charge.
Joey Antipas, who started the campaign, had also taken four points, from two games, with a draw against Botswana and a victory over Zambia in Lusaka.
Loga immediately flew back to Croatia, just after the 0-2 defeat at home to Zambia, in the final qualifier, at the National Sports Stadium.
The coach isn’t new to controversy after he caused a storm, around the globe, when he claimed his votes for the FIFA 2019 Best Awards were tampered with, during his time as Sudan coach. He claimed his votes, somehow ended up being given to Argentina captain, Lionel Messi, the eventual winner of the Best Player award, when he had actually voted for Mohamed Salah.