Fiery Fanfare

How a nation lost FIFA World Cup 2018, and yet won


The world is watching the finals between “David” and “Goliath” (Croatia vs. France respectively). In the weeks prior to the FIFA World Cup 2018 finals on 15. July, football team from Croatia (a nation with just over 4 million people) swept with the competition and placed themselves in the finals against France (a nation of more than 67 million).

This is an account of palpable emotion, high hopes, bitter defeat and yet the unexpected victorious jubilation of the fans in a port town of Rijeka, Croatia. Their emotion is echoed across the country and beyond its borders who tirelessly cheered their team to the best ever result in their nation’s sport history. The emotional rollercoaster from ‘loosing the world cup finals’ to “We are second, second in the world, man…”, (shouted by the elated fan), was a viscerally intense switch from sombreness to ecstatic happiness in the matter of minutes.

Waterpolo cap
Waterpolo Cap / A pot of emotions have completely encompassed the fan crowd who cheer for their “fiery” team on Sunday 15. July 2018. At this point it is clear they had lost a chance to win the World Cup in football. Wearing national football team shirts, flags and water polo caps, these fans are proud and believing in their national team sports. An incredible sportsmanship in support for their team playing in Russia continues on Riva (the old port and marina in Rijeka, Croatia) until the bitter end.

Flag over heads
Flag Over Heads / Throughout Rijeka, Croatia you can only hear the sound coming from TV sets and the big speakers at the end of the old port and marina. It is official, France is football World Cup 2018 champion. Flags flying high, checkered patterns and other fan paraphernalia are silent reminders of the high spirits just two hours before until something unexpected happened—an ecstatic explosion of emotions on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Open arms
Open Arms / An ecstatic explosion of emotion is engulfing thousands of fans who came to see the historic game on Riva (the old port and marina in Rijeka, Croatia) where the big screen offered a collective viewing of the FIFA World Cup 2018 finals. Emerging from the smoke in now contagious emotional overspill people are air punching, drinking, throwing smoke signals, signal torches, firecrackers … and of course hugging, kissing, smiling, jumping, singing…

Second, man…
Second, Man… / “We are second, second in the world, man…”, shouted this elated fan engulfed in an aura of orange smoke coming from numerous maritime smoke signals on Riva, the old port and marina in Rijeka, Croatia. A football team of a nation of just over 4 million people (Croatia) the “David” played in the FIFA World Cup 2018 finals against the “Goliath” nation with over 67 million people (France) and lost. However, the team and their fans have won the hearts around the world for their sportsmanship and courage performed throughout the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Fans on van
Fans on Van / An underdog Croatia played a match of football with France at the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia and lost… And everybody is ecstatic about it. The Sunday afternoon in Rijeka, Croatia turns into an evening while the celebration after achieving the unimaginable now spills over the whole town center. The sense of road safety is skewed in the overflowing emotion that does not bother anybody, not even policemen who, although subdued, celebrate with the rest of the people.

Flag waving on street
Flag Waving on Street / Since Croatia’s significant win in the quarter-finals against Russian team at the FIFA World Cup 2018, each game turned the center of the coastal town Rijeka, Croatia into a blaze of joy and happiness. Display of national colours, symbols and emotions transforms the sentiment of the everyday grind into an almost out-of-body experience for many Croatian football fans. The parties on the streets of Rijeka had continued long into the night after each win and the loss of the finals at the football World Cup in Russia in July 2018.



I work multidisciplinary across experimental art, facilitation, design and photography. I explore strategies and formats of how to engage myself and others in an exchanging dialogue.

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