July 14 (UPI) -- Regardless of recently strained political relations between Slovenia and Croatia over unresolved issues such as border demarcation, many of the Slovenians openly admit that their favorite team during the World Cup tournament in Russia are the Croats.
The Croatian squad coached by manager Zlatko Dalic enjoys high ratings among the Slovenians, as evidenced by the fact that Croatian national checkered jerseys have been sold out in the Slovenia coastal area, local media outlets have reported.
The Kopar-based "Primorske Novice" has reported that Croatian football jerseys are selling "like hot cakes," and a local shop assistant has been quoted as saying that the jerseys at the price of 30 euros are bought by both Slovenians and foreign tourists in Piran Bay.
Furthermore, cafes and restaurants near the border with Croatia are offering fan corners where locals, Slovenian and Croatian neighbors, are together watching matches with the Croatian soccer team at the tournament.
One of those fans, Joze J. has told Hina that, all of them together drink bear and enjoy watching the performances of the Croatian footballers who made it to the final.
He also says that some of the Slovenians prefer watching Croatian Television during the tournament as they object to a Slovenian reporter who mentioned the border row during the coverage of the Croatia-England semi-final game.
Football fever spreading across Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Croatian national team that has a few members of the Croat background from Bosnia and Herzegovina, including coach Zlatko Dalic who was born in the northwestern town of Livno, enjoy great affection among fans in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The excellent results of the squad have been even pointed out by Sarajevo Archbishop, Cardinal Vinko Puljic, who said few days ago that the success of the Croatian footballers in Russia made everybody happy and helped the ordinary people forget gloomy political topics.
The posters with the encouraging messages appeared in the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina before the the historic semi-final match between Croatia and England on July 11 with one of those posters reading "Together with the Fiery Ones To the Final!"
The Croat-populated areas of Bosnia and Herzegovina are also organizing fan zones during the matches with the Croatia team, and only this past Wednesday, when the England-Croata semifinal match was played, the fan zones were not staged in Mostar out of respect for the victims of the Srebrenica atrocity. The match coincided with the 23rd anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre which was why the leading Bosnian Croat political party - the HDZ BiH - recommended the cancellation of an open-air party in Mostar during the match.
Montenegrin media outlets have reported about local soccer fans being in the high spirits after Croatia's victories during the tournament in Russia.
Euphoric atmosphere prevailing among Croat expat communities worldwide
Ivan Rakitic, a midfielder in the national team, told a news conference on Friday, two days ahead of the historic final, that being the Croat was the most beautiful thing in the world now.
Rakitic, who was born in Switzerland to a father from Croatia and a mother from Bosnia and Herzegovina, also commented on the the feeling of togetherness among Croat expatriates and Croatia.
In reference to the huge support to the national team, he said that he had a feeling that as if "4.5 million Croats will appear on the pitch" of Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow for the final match against France.
During the news conference, Rakitic expressed support to Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic wishing him a success during the Wimbledon tournament. Djokovic has been quoted by media as saying that he would like that Croatia wins the World Cup.
In this context, Rakitic said that he had also received the message of support and best wishes from the Serbian national team manager Mladen Krstajic.
However, before the Croatia-Russia match in the knock-out stage of the tournament, Serbia's President Aleksandar Vucic said that he would root for the Russians, although he admitted that the Croatian team had been one of the best at the tournament.