Football: Stimac named Croatia coach, Suker federation chief
Croatia's Football Federation (HNS) on Thursday unanimously elected former star player Davor Suker as its new head and another former international Igor Stimac as the new coach of the national squad.
Stimac, who is to hold his first press conference as a new coach on Friday, is replacing Slaven Bilic who took over Russian Premier League side Lokomotiv Moscow after Euro 2012. Bilic led the squad since 2006.
A 44-year former defender, Stimac began and ended his career at Hajduk Split but also played for Derby and West Ham United from the mid-1990s before returning to Croatia in 2001.
He played for the Croatia squad that finished third at the 1998 World Cup in France.
Suker, former striker and Croatia's record goalscorer, is replacing long-term president Vlatko Markovic who headed the HNS since 1998. Markovic, 75, a former leading player and coach had announced earlier that he was to leave the post after Euro 2012, without revealing the reasons for the move.
"We are aware of Croatian clubs' problems and we will do everything possible to fix that, to retain football's popularity," the 44-year-old Suker said.
He pledged to "return the faith in both football and refereeing."
Croatian football is facing a deep crisis and the federation has been held largely responsible for it. Several first division sides are suffering financial hardship, while match-fixing and bribing scandals have rocked the country.
Sports Minister Zeljko Jovanovic, who took over in December, blamed the HNS leadership for what he described as a "sad situation in Croatian football" and called for their resignation.
Suker also pledged to work with the authorities to fight against hooliganism.
"We need the help of institutions to settle accounts with individuals and groups that harm Croatian football," he said.
In June, UEFA fined the HNS some 135,000 euros ($167,000) for their fans racist and violent behaviour at the European Championship in Poland and Ukraine.
Suker scored 45 goals in 69 international appearances. He was the top scorer at the 1998 World Cup and represented clubs including Sevilla, Real Madrid and Arsenal.
Croatia were eliminated in the group stage of the European Championship.