Croatia is a country in Central Europe, bordered by the Slovenia and Hungary to the north, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the east, Montenegro to the south, and the Mediterranean to the west. Croatia has a population of 4.28 million people and the capital is Zagreb.
Football is the most popular team sport in Croatia and its history can be dated from the late nineteenth century. The first Croat clubs were founded prior to the First World War and participated in the Yugoslavian league structure after Croatia became a part of Yugoslavia following the war. The earliest clubs were HAŠK and PNIŠK in 1903 and Hajduk and Građanski in 1911. However, the first Croatian football club Bačka from Subotica was founded in 1901 in the Kingdom of Hungary.
The Croatian Football Federation (Hrvatski nogometni savez) is the governing body of football in Croatia and is based in Zagreb. The HNS oversees all aspects of football in the country including 1. HNL, 2. HNL, 3. HNL, the Croatian Cup and the Croatian national team, as well as its female equivalent.
The organisation was originally founded in 1912 and was briefly affiliated to FIFA from 1941 as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a fascist puppet state. After Croatia had officially declared independence on 8 October 1991, the Croatian Football Federation sought international recognition, and was finally re-admitted to FIFA on 3 July 1992 and to UEFA on 17 June 1993.
The Prva HNL (or 1. HNL) was formed in 1991, following the dissolution of the Yugoslav First League, and is operated by the Croatian Football Federation. There are currently twelve teams in the top tier league with the winners qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. Dinamo Zagreb are the most successful club with 14 titles overall, followed by Hajduk Split with 6 titles.
The Croatian Second League is known as the Druga HNL (or 2. HNL) and comprises sixteen teams from the entire country. Relegation from this division is into one of the five regional divisions of the Croatian Third League, known as the Treća HNL (or 3. HNL).
The Croatian Fourth Football League (commonly known as Četvrta HNL or 4.HNL) was dissolved in 2012 after the reorganisation of the Treća HNL. The fourth tier is now the Prve županijske lige (commonly known as 1. ŽNL) which is the county level. Below this level are further tiers known as 2. ŽNL, 3. ŽNL and 4. ŽNL. There is a system of promotion and relegation between the various tiers.
The Croatian Cup (Hrvatski nogometni kup) is an annually held football tournament for Croatian football clubs. The competition has historically been dominated by Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split.
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