Last-minute scramble as Croats rush to Moscow

ZAGREB • Croatia President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said she cannot wait for the World Cup final against France, as police in Zagreb worked overtime to meet the huge demands from fans needing passports to attend the match.

Zlatko Dalic's side reached today's showpiece after beating England 2-1 in extra time in Moscow on Wednesday, sparking wild scenes of excitement both in the Luzhniki Stadium and in Croatia.

"I feel extremely excited, I don't know how I will wait until Sunday," said Ms Grabar-Kitarovic, who is going to attend the game, on Friday. "Regardless of Sunday's result, which I believe will be a victory, we are winners."

In Moscow, sitting in a street-side cafe and wearing his country's red and white chequered colours, fan Zdenko Corluka said he had spent Thursday morning fielding calls from friends back home, who were booking flights to Moscow and hoping he could find them a ticket to the game.

"All the time, each phone ringing and everybody calling to say, 'Buy to us ticket, buy to us ticket'," said Corluka, whose cousin, Vedran Corluka, is a Croatia defender.

Ivan Skegro, 30, from Zagreb, said he had to fly back home from Moscow on Thursday after watching the semi-final against England the previous day. As soon as the referee blew the whistle, he knew he would be flying to Moscow again two days later.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Skegro said, adding that return flights from Zagreb were about €1,500 (S$2,400).

"A mini trip to Moscow is four months of the (average) salary. But we have bicycles and we will (cycle) to Moscow - don't worry, we will come."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 15, 2018, with the headline 'Last-minute scramble as Croats rush to Moscow'. Print Edition | Subscribe