Sport in Croatia has significant role in Croatian culture, and many local sports clubs as well as the Croatian national squads enjoy strong followings in the country. The most enduring sport by far in Croatia is football, and is played on amateur and professional levels amongst all age groups across the entire country. Several other major team sports are handball, basketball and water polo, with clubs in all parts of Croatia. Ice hockey is another popular team sport, namely in the Croatian interior. The most popular individual sports in Croatia are tennis, alpine skiing, and swimming, and to some extent table tennis and chess. Various amateur sport games are popular in Croatia, notably picigin.
Football is the most popular sport in Croatia, and is governed by the Croatian Football Federation. Dinamo Zagreb is the country’s most successful football club and the 2011 champion, with 13 total championships, followed by Hajduk Split with 6 championships (last one in 2005). The rivalry between these two clubs is known as the Eternal Derby in Croatia, with the two clubs combining to win all but one of the 20 championships ever contested in the league’s history. The Croatian national football team won a bronze medal in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Davor Šuker won the Golden Boot as the top goal scorer.
Historically, Croatia has been a prolific nation in handball, both in the success of its club handball, as well as with the achievements of the Croatian national squad. The Croatia national handball team is currently ranked 10th in the world by the International Handball Federation. At the 1996 and 2004 Summer Olympics, Croatia won gold medals in men’s handball. The squad won the 2003 World Men’s Handball Championship, and came in 2nd at the 1995 and 2005 championships, as well as at the 2009 Championship as hosts, losing in the final to France. Croatia also came in 3rd at the 1994 European Men’s Handball Championship and 2nd at the 2008 and 2010 championships.
The Croatian national basketball team won a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic basketball tournament, bronze medal at the 1994 FIBA World Championship and bronze medals at EuroBasket 1993 and EuroBasket 1995. Croatian basketball clubs were Euroleague champions 5 times: KK Split three times (in 1989, 1990 and 1991) and KK Cibona in 1985 and 1986.
The Croatia national water polo team won a gold medal at the 2007 FINA World Championships and bronze medals in 2009 and 2011. The team also won gold at the 2012 Olympic water polo games and silver at the 1996 Olympic games, as well as gold at the 2010 European Championship and silvers in the 1999 and 2003 European Championships. Croatian water polo clubs were 13 times LEN Euroleague champions.
Janica Kostelić is the most successful female alpine ski racer in the history of the Winter Olympic Games. Her elder brother Ivica Kostelić was the 2003 World Champion in slalom and the Men’s Overall Champion at the 2011 Alpine Skiing World Cup, and as of 14 February 2014 is a four-time Winter Olympic silver medalist himself.
Blanka Vlašić is the best-known Croatian track and field athlete; she specialises in the high jump. She is 2007 and 2009 World Champion. Blanka is also 2008 World Indoor Champion and 2008 Olympic silver medalist.
Croatia has produced some very talented tennis players over the years, including both men and women. And some of themare Goran Ivanišević, Ivan Ljubičić, Ivo Karlović, Mario Ančić, Ana Konjuh andmany others.