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The law describes Hebrew as the "state's language", effectively prioritising it above Arabic which has for decades been recognised as an official language alongside Hebrew. In which other countries has the choice of language proved politically controversial? This Baltic state and former Soviet republic has a sizeable Russian-speaking minority, but the government recognises only Latvian as the official state language. The authorities also have plans to promote Latvian as the language of instruction in all secondary schools, although for the moment, teaching in Russian and other minority languages will still be allowed at primary-school level. After its independence in 1991, Croatia abolished the Cyrillic script, which had been used when Croatia was part of the former Yugoslavia. Tamil Nadu - with its own ancient language and traditions - suffered riots over the issue. The central government continues to use English as well as Hindi for official purposes, and individual states have largely been left to decide their own language policy. Turkish is the only official language and there have long been restrictions on the Kurdish minority regarding the use of their language. Canada is officially bilingual, with the constitution stating that English and French have "equality of status" in all government institutions and the parliament. In 1974, Quebec made French the official language in the province.
There was to be no final, dramatic twist in a World Cup which has been full of joyous surprises and jaw-dropping late drama. Twenty years after France won the first World Cup in its country's history, a youthful Les Bleus…
When Croatian defender Domagoj Vida shouted “Glory to Ukraine” in an online video message after his team defeated Russia in the quarterfinals of the soccer World Cup, it was a reminder that sport and politics can’t always be separated whatever Russian President Vladimir Putin might say. Vida, who played for Dynamo Kyiv for more than five years until January, insisted in an initial statement issued by the Croatian Football Federation that he and coaching assistant Ognjen Vukojevic, who was also in the video, were simply thanking their Ukrainian fans for their support. “I sincerely hope that this message will not be understood as anything else,” said Vida, who scored Croatia’s second goal in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Russia and smashed home a penalty in the decisive shootout after the teams remained tied at the end of extra time. On Monday, however, the federation issued another statement announcing that it had revoked Vukojevic’s accreditation and removed him from the national squad for publishing the video. ‘I Apologize’ While he never intended any political message, “my statements unfortunately could have been interpreted differently,” Vukojevic said in comments on the federation’s website. “I apologize to the Russian public if they have understood my statements in such a way.” The phrase “Glory to Ukraine” is commonly used by supporters of the 2014 revolution that overthrew the country’s pro-Russian president. With Ukraine and Russia locked in confrontation over the 2014 annexation of Crimea and the war against Kremlin-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, it carries even more political overtones. Many in the Balkans also see parallels in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with the war that erupted between Serbs and Croats in the 1990s as the former Yugoslavia fell apart. As controversy swirled over the remark in Russian media, soccer’s governing body, FIFA, which has rules against political gestures, issued Vida with a warning, while opting not to ban him from Wednesday’s semifinal game against England in Moscow. It had earlier fined two Swiss players with roots in Kosovo who celebrated their goals that defeated Serbia in the tournament’s group stage by making double-headed eagle gestures with their hands, emulating the symbol on the Albanian flag.