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Aussies slam Croatian football deal: report

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Jul 2008

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Football Federation Australia is to take up with FIFA the legalities of an Australian club sending its young stars to Croatia, reports said on Friday.

Sydney United, formerly Sydney Croatia, has produced 32 Socceroos over the years and is forming a junior development plan with the Croatian Football Federation (HNS), the reports said.

The Sydney Morning Herald said the development of the plan would mark the first time a formal structure has been put in place to parachute youngsters into the Croatian system with a view to some playing for its national team.

FFA chief executive Ben Buckley told the newspaper:”If this is the case, I'd be extremely disappointed that a club that is part of our system is expressly developing players for another country.

“If such a relationship was formalised, we would as a matter of course raise the legalities of it with (world governing body) FIFA and consider any action open to us in respect of the club and the Croatian Football Federation.

Croatian football authorities have been active here in the past, successfully recruiting 2006 World Cup trio Josip Simunic, Ante Seric and Joey Didulica from Australian youth programmes. They were in the squad that lost 2-1 to Australia in their group match in Stuttgart.

The scheme is believed to have been hatched when HNS officials visited the club following the FIFA Congress last May in Sydney, The Herald said.

Current and former Australian internationals Mark Viduka, Zeljko Kalac, Josip Skoko, Tony Popovic and Jason Culina all have Croatian backgrounds.

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