The President of the Water Polo Federation of Serbia, Viktor Jelenic, discussed issues affecting the national team and top players in Serbian water polo in an interview on the Federation’s official website. Specifically, he commented on Novi Beograd’s actions concerning Dusan Mandic and Nikola Jaksic.
In response, Slobodan Soro, the director of Novi Beograd, wrote a lengthy announcement accepting some responsibility but also asked many questions about the overall situation in Serbian water polo.
Slobodan Soro’s announcement:
“After the last statement of the president of the Water Polo Federation of Serbia, Viktor Jelenic, in which he comments on the issue of what is happening in our club, which I have no problem with, but I would like the same attitude towards other clubs.
If he publicly deals with and comments on our club policy and relations within our club, he should do the same regarding the other clubs in the country, including his Crvena Zvezda, where he still decides everything and behaves as if he were the owner, not the president of the Federation. Accordingly, I will remind Jelenic about things that the whole water polo world knows, but we should never hear him publicly commenting on them, just as he publicly comments on our club’s decisions. That is why we hope that the practice will change from today and that the president will, from now on, tell the public everything that concerns every club in the country, which we are very much looking forward to because, unlike others, we have nothing to hide.
Let me start in order.
We understand President Jelenic’s concern for the players Mandic and Jaksic, as we are aware that everything that happened can affect the results of our national team, and we accept that part of the responsibility, but we also do not understand why there is no announcement regarding the other players who found themselves in a far worse situation.
He does not comment on the moment when the two national team players, Vico and Radulovic, ended the season at the beginning of January. The season was over for them. They were left to fend for themselves because the current national team head coach, and their coach in Radnički, Uros Stevanovic, kicked them out of the team in the middle of the season. There was no comment from the Federation. I want to remind you that just over a year before that, Marko Radulovic was declared the best young water polo player in the world after winning the gold medal in Prague. Our club was the one that opened the door for him at that moment and provided him with all the necessary conditions for further normal work.
Does it affect him that Nikola Lukic and Lazar Dobozanov are no longer on the list of coach Stevanovic after signing for Novi Beograd, and Radoslav Filipovic, when he is on the exit door of our club after a long time, receives an invitation to prepare for the national team, although we believe that Radoslav deserved it earlier.
Why didn’t he find it appropriate to speak out about the financial situation in Radnidki Kragujevac and Crvena Zvezda. For some reason, the practice of not paying players has unfortunately returned to our sport and is becoming normal again. Crvena Zvezda traditionally disbands the team in the middle of the season and gives everyone the opportunity to go where they want, knowing that this is almost impossible in the middle of the season. On the other hand, Partizan is fighting frantically to get out of the darkness it has been in for years, but their bank account is still blocked and their debts to former players are still unpaid. Radnicki did not pay a single salary to its players this year, and it is still forcing many to waive their debts in order to give them documents to leave the club. We haven’t heard a single word about this from President Jelenic, even though the existence of all those players and their families is threatened, because they haven’t received their promised money for years. Novi Beograd, unlike all of them, does not have any debt and pays all its obligations regularly. These topics are obviously not the priority of President Jelenic, but his priority is settling accounts with Novi Beograd, but OK. I go on.
How should it be viewed when the Water Polo Federation of Serbia honors Crvena Zvezda by hosting the final tournament of the Cup of Serbia for 4 years in a row by covering all the costs of the organization. In this way, President Jelenic favors his club and creates a bad image of the Water Polo Federation of Serbia, which belongs equally to all clubs and where everyone should be equal. We asked more than once how the Serbian Cup could be hosted, and we always got the same answer from Jelenić: “It’s not for you to ask, I decide on that.”
At the end, I would return to the mentioned Jaksic and Mandic.
Nikola Jaksic was injured in July at the World Championships in Budapest, he was treated incorrectly and our club was the one that helped recover him after the injury. When a new shoulder injury appeared directly related to the previous elbow injury, the Federation did not want to bear any of the treatment costs. Everything was transferred to our club, which was the case after another injury in December. Regarding the compensation fee requested by our club, let’s ask a little about the payments when Filipovic and Mandic moved from Partizan to Pro Recco. I believe that he knows all this, but apparently, with a bad ulterior motive, he gives himself the right to lump-sum assessments and inappropriate comparisons.
Regarding Mandic, I would return to Split and why the water polo public never found out why he skipped the last 2 matches of the European Championship. Why did it all go by without many reactions, just like the change of coach Savic, which was marked by a post and a picture on Instagram.
Our club is trying to set new standards in our sport that we all love. Some things may not be popular and publicly accepted, but we believe that they are for the good of both our club and our national team in the long run.
Finally, I would like to remind that our national team is currently 5th in the world and 7th in Europe and that after 1996 we are again playing the qualifiers for the European Championships. Then it was because of the sanctions that took us away from the international scene, and now because of the results from the last championship.
As a two-time finalist of the Champions League, Novi Beograd defends the honor of Serbian water polo with the only respectable results, which, not counting the younger categories, Serbian water polo has had in recent years. They will not give up on that, regardless of all the obstructions we have from the people who lead our alliance.
Water polo is a sport greater than all of us, even President Jelenic.”