Luka Modric’s Court Testimony In Zdravko Mamic Corruption Case Spins Ugly Outcries

Luka Modic (Front)
Zdravko Mamic (Back)
Photo: Screenshot Getty Images


When it comes to hyping up flames of reckoning with corruption in Croatia highly-positioned, wealthy dignitaries in football, a sport that ignites the passion of masses, take as much of the public attention cake as politicians accused of corruption do. Football player transfer has been the field of riches and wealth accumulation everywhere and while corrupt conduct may or may not be involved the magnitude of money involved has certainly tickled imagination of many, so too in Croatia. The unsavoury consequences of being accused or indicted for corruption is that a palpably large slice of public imagination delivers a guilty verdict long before any court trial has heard or finished testing the evidence or has delivered any official verdict. One may well conclude that this is a product of public’s impatience for Croatia to rid itself of corruption that has evidently thrived in the country from the days of communist Yugoslavia and continued into the modern independent Croatian state. The frequent distrust in the judicial system and courts themselves serves no favours to anyone.

In these cases impatience and the “guilty until proven innocent” phenomenon do no justice. If anything they cause damage – that is quite clear to everyone, I think, yet still – they go on.

Former Dinamo Zagreb chief Zdravko Mamic (and others) is currently on trial for embezzlement and tax fraud, among other things, which is currently considered as one of the biggest corruption legal cases in the country. Zdravko Mamic, his brother Zoran and two others are charged with embezzling €15 million ($17m) since 2008 through alleged fictitious deals made during transfers of several former Dinamo players to foreign clubs. Mamic is accused of illegally pocketing a chunk of Luka Modric’s (current Real Madrid star midfielder) transfer fee when he left Dinamo for Spurs in 2008.

There is no debate held, it seems, as to whether or not Mamic was made absurdly rich off the back of the deal, the trial is simply determining if anything illegal took place. Undoubtedly the contracts signed between Zdravko Mamic and transferred player Luka Modric (see below) will undergo proper legal scrutiny.

For many years, Croatia has been a breeding ground for some of the premium talents in European football. From Davor Suker, Zvonomir Boban and Robert Prosinecki, to Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic, Croatia and its domestic league has blossomed into top echelons of league in Europe and worldwide. However, despite a bevy of elite footballers and several impressive academies, the domestic league and national team are said to be among the two most corrupt and troubled institutions in world football with a seemingly endless laundry list of alleged infractions and crimes on its record.

On Tuesday June 13th Luka Modric appeared as a key witness at the Mamic corruption trial in the town of Osijek, testifying about his financial deals with Zdravko Mamic.

Modric, who is not a suspect, spoke about the financial details of his 2008 transfer from Dinamo to Tottenham. He moved to Real Madrid in 2012.

Modric said he had a deal with former Dinamo director Zdravko Mamic to pay the club 50 percent of the transfer. He said the transfer to Tottenham was worth “between” 21 million and 23 million euros .

Modric said that after the sums were paid to Dinamo’s and his bank accounts in Croatia, he gave an unspecified amount “cash in hand” to Mamic’s brother and son.

My goal was to clear all of my debts toward him, so I don’t owe him (Mamic) anything else in the future,” Modric said.

As the prosecutor Tonci Petkovic presented Modric with an earlier statement of his own on Tuesday, Modric first asked for it to be repeated.

While it was being read again, he started to shake his head; put his hands on the table and said: “That… That I’ve never said… that it… that… that it was drawn up afterwards. I told you then that I couldn’t remember when it had been done.” Hence, upon being confronted with details of his initial statement, Modric explained he got confused.

When speaking about that, I was talking about a personal contract between Mamic and me, which regulated the split of the transfer fee,” he said.

Zdravko Mamic had testified in court that on occasions of every change to a player transfer contract he had signed annexes to the original contract.

After Luka Modric’s testimony on Tuesday Mamic stated to the awaiting media: “Luka did not change his statement, I have seen it. His statement is something most beautiful and most honest thing ever seen. They injected a sentence into his (original) statement which he never uttered. He said today it was a lie and that it was not true. In London we negotiated the division (of money) on a basis of a civil contract between him and I. That’s where the beginning and the end of the story is and everything else is a big performance, disgusting, in which the whole system has pounced against my back.” 

The case continues but with Mamic having sacked his legal defence team stating he wished to represent himself in court from now on.

The moment Luka Modric finished his testimony on Tuesday you just knew nothing in Croatia was eer going to be the same for him.

That same day, just hours later, there would be a crowd of Hajduk Split fans chanting “Luka Modric, you little sh*t” as they walked to a club members’ event. The next morning, messages started to appear on the streets of Croatian cities – one, on the front of the Hotel Iz in Zadar, where the Modric family use to live as war refugees in the 1990s, ominously warned “Luka, you will remember this one day”.

Well – so much for fairness! So much for “innocent until proven guilty”! So much for the trust between much of the Croatian public and the courts. Ina Vukic.


  1. Stevie10703 says:

    This new breed of Hajduk fans that Ranko Ostojic has a hand in are the lowest of the low. Maybe these new Hajduk fans should look in the mirror and see who it was that drew that swastika on Poljud right before the Italy match two summers back. Maybe people should take a look at how dirty their hands are. Modric did nothing wrong and neither did Janica Kostelic and yet these new breed of Hajduk fans are trying to be judge, jury, and executioner. Sickening…kind of reminds us that history is repeating itself because we saw what the “young Yugoslavs” did almost 100 years ago to people that disagreed with them.

    • Well said Stevie!

      • Stevie10703 says:

        Just saw this, which explains the transfer fee rules.

        #3 in particular is pretty much sums up what happened between Luka Modric and Dinamo and here it is:

        “In some cases there is a third transaction that must be negotiated: A deal between the player and the club he is leaving for a portion of the transfer fee. Yes, that’s right. Sometimes a player wants to get his hands on a portion of the transfer fee between the clubs. Samuel Eto’o, a Barcelona player rumored to be heading to Manchester City, reportedly wants half of the transfer fee Barcelona would get from Man City. This type of deal doesn’t occur in many transfers.”

        This article is from back in 2009. The last sentence is interesting and that is this type of deal where a player gets some of the transfer fee doesn’t occur in many transfers. Mamic if anything gave Luka a part of the transfer money when he went to Tottenham in England. So, I’m wonder what exactly is the problem here other than a witch hunt on Luka because he didn’t incriminate Mamic.

      • Good one Stevie

    • Hear, hear, Stevie!

      As a Hajduk fan, but an even bigger national team fan, I am utterly disappointed an embarrassed at the behaviour of “Nas Hajduk”, Split & the Dalmatia region. “Nas Hajduk” is certainly not my Hajduk. Turning my back on people who’s hard work and dedication helped put our country on the sporting map & creating further division amongst constant corruption & economic problems is not my way. I want corruption out, but not at the price of further division, and certainly not at the expense of people who might actually have the potential to help, like Janica Kostelic.

      This new breed of Torcida, or whatever they wish to call themselves, have deluded themselves into thinking their brand of hooliganism is some sort of crusade for justice. But their idea of justice is to go after anyone who disagrees with them! At what point would the line be drawn, then? Threats today, fists tomorrow until there’s no one left who disagrees, no one who’s brave enough to speak out? My, my, they’ve learned well from their Yugoslav idols.

      I am not 100% supporting Mamic – I certainly don’t believe his greedy hands are absolutely clean. I certainly believe he is greedy, like anyone at the highest echelons of our institutions. But does “Nas Hajduk” somehow feel entitled to money Mamic negotiates for his team’s players? Even if there’s no corruption, do they think they are owed a portion of transfer fees or something? I’m still not understanding all the anger. I certainly believe HNS needs fixing. I certainly believe more work is needed so all football clubs have better representation at higher levels. But it is not just Mamic to blame here. Hajduk management’s hands are not all clean, I am sure of it. I’ve known enough people who work in various areas of the club to know that bad management and financial mismanagement, putting the “suits” before the lower paid workers & the players, is something that needs attention. I’ve known enough people who work there to know that drunks and drugged out hooligans attending matches ARE in fact, a problem, so no, you cannot get away with acting like the only hooligans are the “mafia in suits” in Zagreb. And I can see now that such hooligans have no concept of taking responsibility for their actions, yet organisations like “Nas Hajduk” only nurture this attitude and their delusions about being self-proclaimed warriors for justice.

      It is not Mamic alone who looks after his self-interest. In fact, we can see such an attitude all throughout our institutions, even our court system, which to me is the most frightening of all. The media is compliant in creating this atmosphere of tossing “innocent until proven guilty” out the window, and now I find myself distrustful of all sides – whose side are the courts really on? The rule of law or someone’s self-interest? Do they really want our national sporting teams and the players who make them up, to succeed?

  2. It’s pretty much the same here, just the names are different!

  3. Zezevica says:

    Looks like we are back to the old Yugoslav days. Group of Hajduk supporters have a go at Janica Kostelic, and I agree they should not of gone that far, and are then locked up in jail. Similar to having a go at a communist official and getting locked up. Then you have guys like Mamic, Horvatincic and co walking free and not spending a day in jail. How the hell is Horvatincic still free and even worse attending official HNS events in the VIP area is mind boggling. I think with Modric, it was all of a sudden it was “ne sjecam se”. Take a look at the Football in Croata. Crowds have disappeared over the last decade. Hajduk Split has the most attendance of any teams in the HNL yet some of there games only get around 5000 people. Dinamo even had a game this season with less than 1000 people. Lokomotiv are lucky to get 100 people etc. The people are sick of the corruption in sport and have given up. It will be interesting to hear what Dejan Lovren will say at the corruption trial. Hopefully one day the sport will be cleaned and the crowds will return.

    • Zezevica, all cases you mention still need to be completed in courts and patience is needed despite what one may feel about anyone. The courts weigh out the evidence, hopefully in a fair and objective way

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