Forget Brazil and Spain as your secondary team in this summer’s World Cup. The honour of the entire world’s support aside from their nation should be behind the Balkan country making its debut on this stage, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Football fans, especially those of Manchester City, Stoke City and Hoffenheim will know about Bosnia and Herzegovina due to players such as Edin Dzeko, Asmir Begovic and Sejad Salihovic starring this season at club level.
Six years after, Team GB’s Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean performed the now world celebrated ‘bolero’ at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo the country was plunged into a bloody fight for independence, in a civil war against the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Three years of fighting ensued, in which ethnic cleansing and mass genocide decimated the population, with the scars still running deep to this day.
These atrocities are still the worst recorded war crimes in Europe, since the Holocaust during the second world war.
The conflict halted organised sport in the country, which resulted in football players and other athletes, male or female becoming soldiers on the front line. Fragile peace was finally achieved in December 1995.
Bosnia, its people and the world were devastated by the events of the war. Families, businesses and sport’s clubs were burnt to the ground.
Since the Bosnian War ended, sport particularly football has tried and helped to stabilise the country. Football clubs such as FK Željezničar Sarajevo and FK Sarajevo, which is owned by Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan, have helped energise the capital. But the national teams form lead by Dzeko have started the rebuilding process.
During the qualification campaign for the 2012 European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, Bosnia and Herzegovina finished second and just one point behind France. Unfortunately in the play-off they were drawn against Portugal and after a solid 0-0 draw at home were convincingly demolished 6-2 in the second leg.
The disappointment in the failure to qualify assisted the national team throughout World Cup qualification with Bosnia topping the group ahead of Greece; the first time in which the fledgling state has qualified for a major tournament.
Fans often accuse athletes of being overpaid and under-performing due to the lack of passion and desire for their club or country. The players of Bosnia and Herzegovina will not be thinking about their holiday on the beach but instead trying to perform well for their country and with Iran, Nigeria and Argentina in their group the chances of advancing to the next round are promising.
That’s why the World must support Bosnia and Herzegovina at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
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