1963 – Present
Croatian Soccer Clubs in North America were formed as early as 1922, maybe even earlier – we know this because our Federation Member, Croatian Eagles Milwaukee is the oldest Soccer Club in North America.
After World War Two, large waves of immigrants fleeing from occupied Croatia came to North America seeking refuge and a new life. Many of these new immigrants; “displaced persons” as they were called, saw North America as a temporary home until they could somehow liberate Croatia from foreign rule as back homeCroatians were being oppressed even prior to WW2. Hence this new wave of immigrants had a very strong national color, a strong national consciousness and will to preserve their national identity – many of them having even fought for or been imprisoned for what they dubbed the “Croatian cause” – the establishment of Croatia as an independent state.
They established soccer clubs, built churches and many social clubs and institutions. Many of these clubs were simply named “Croatia”; a cry of desperation and pride for the name “Croatia” to be seen anywhere. By the 60’s
they were met with another wave of Croatian immigrants fleeing from Communist Yugoslavia who were also very willing to take up the fight for Croatian Independence.
In 1963, several Croatian Soccer Clubs met up to found the Croatian National Soccer Federation of Canada & USA alongside the CroatianNational Soccer Tournament.
The very first teams of the Croatian National Soccer Federation of Canada and USA were: Hrvat Chicago, Croatian Eagles Milwaukee, London Croatia, Zagreb Cleveland, Croatia Cleveland, Adria Chicago, New York Croatia and Croatia Windsor.
The very first draw for the Croatian National Soccer Tournament took place in Cleveland, Ohio by representatives of Zagreb Cleveland and Croatia Cleveland, their names were: Lucijan Car, Milan Mutic, Kazimir Raguz, and Marko Spiranovic. Their goals were very clear and outlined in the first documents of the Croatian National Soccer Federation:
Upon the first Croatian National Tournament in Cleveland, Ohio in 1964:
The gathering of the Croatian Youth within Croatian clubs and teams, alongside competition on the field against foreign clubs and teams of other peoples in front of formal representatives of the USA and Canada is the best form of proof, that this Croatian Youth is conscious of it’s responsibility and duty towards it’s own people and homeland. It is also proof that this Croatian youth wishes to continue the fight to preserve its faith and national consciousness. Also, that this Croatian youth is conscious of its responsibility to continue the fight for the liberation of our homeland from serbo-communist tyranny andthe establishment of the Independent State of Croatia!
As mentioned above, the very first Croatian National Soccer Tournament took place in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, the teams have gone into “hosting order” rotation, taking turns to host the annual tournament withit’s newest members being added to the bottom of the rotation. During the years of Communist Yugoslavia some Federation Clubs managed to work their way up to their respective national stages with Toronto Croatia winning the North American Soccer League and Hrvat Chicago representing the United States of America at CONCACAF in Honduras. The Federation was a growth spot for many initiatives. The same Federation was an inspiration to the Australian-Croatian Soccer Federation which began hosting a similar Tournament 10 years after the first North American tournament. When war broke out in Croatia in 1991, the Federation and it’s clubs mobilized all of it’s efforts towards Croatia’s Liberation. Since then, the Federation serves as a governing body so that Croatian Clubs and Youth can gather and promote Croatian culture, sport, tradition and national consciousness – 50+ years and counting!