The Croatian Water Polo Federation (HVS) has officially issued an apology to fans who experienced difficulties gaining entry into the Mladost Swimming Pool in Zagreb for Croatia’s European Championship semi-final against Hungary yesterday.
Approximately 100-200 spectators, holding valid tickets for the match, found themselves denied admission to the thrilling encounter, where Croatia emerged victorious with an 11-8 win over Hungary.
It is unconfirmed at this stage whether the fans who were denied entry were Croatian or Hungarian, but the friends and families of several players, as well as player of other national teams coming to watch were also denied admission.
Expressing regret over the situation, the HVS statement conveyed, “We acknowledge the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the semi-final match between Croatia and Hungary, wherein a significant number of ticket-holders were unable to access the stands and witness the game. We sincerely apologize to our fans for this inconvenience.”
The statement recognized that the confusion was exacerbated by the delayed start of the match, leading to logistical challenges and miscommunication. The HVS emphasized, “While we understand the contributing factors, we recognize that this does not absolve us of our responsibility, and for that, we apologize once again.”
Additionally, the statement clarified that the decision to restrict access was solely made by the event organizers for security reasons. This decision was particularly influenced by the realization that all available spaces were filled, contrary to reports suggesting police involvement.
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It’s noteworthy that the official capacity of Mladost for the European Championships stands at 1600, a mere 12% of the size of the Spaladium Arena, which hosted the 2022 European Championships in Split.
Perica Bukic, the president of HVS, acknowledged the capacity shortfall at Mladost, expressing regret in an interview with HRT before the semi-final. “I apologize to everyone who couldn’t attend the live event. If there were 50,000 tickets available, they would all be sold out,” he stated.
As Croatia prepares to defend its European title against Spain in the upcoming match, hopes are high that the Croatian Federation will be better equipped to handle a capacity crowd, avoiding a recurrence of the issues faced during the semi-final.
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