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Meet Iva Olivari – The First Woman to Sit on the Croatian Team Bench

Iva Olivari, Drazen Ladic and Zlatko Dalic (HNS)

Whilst the focus is on Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic, captain Luka Modric and the rest of the players, there are many people behind the scenes in the set up who have contributed in important ways to the team’s historic silver medal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

One of those individuals is team manager Iva Olivari.

At Euro 2016 in France Iva became the first woman to sit on the national team bench at in the country’s history when Croatia played Turkey at Parc des Princes.

Iva making her debut on the bench in at Euro 2016 (HNS)

“I would be lying to say that I was not excited. Everyone was a great support, the staff, the team, subs. I think they liked it, and we even achieved a huge result,” Iva said at the time.

Two years later Iva now has a World Cup silver medal.

Iva first joined the Croatian football federation in 1992 and worked in the international department before taking on a new role as team manager when Davor Šuker took over the presidency.

She was the team’s manager in Brazil at the FIFA World Cup in 2014 but watched the matches from the stands then.

Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic with Iva (HNS)

Iva’s role is varied, from organising all travel and logistics, to sorting out any personal issues the players may have.
“The guys are great, I love them a lot and they respect me. With the earlier generation I have a brother-sister relationship with them as we have been together for a long time since I was Teta Iva (Aunt Iva) to them,” she added.

Iva celebrates with the team after the Denmark victory (HNS)

Iva was a top sportsperson herself, as a 14-year-old she was the Croatian tennis champion, and even beat the former world number one Steffi Graf in her day.

Iva with the team and her medal (HNS)

“They say I was talented. I then got injured and had to stop playing. If someone told me then I would end up in football I would not have believed them,” Iva concluded.

Iva is not the only female employed by the Croatian Football Federation, in fact there are more women working at the federation than men.

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