The FIFA World Cup 2018 Goes to Migrants


The FIFA World Cup 2018 Goes to Migrants

Illustration: Akshita Monga


ejan Lovren was three when his family had to flee its home in Kraljeva Sutjeska, Bosnia. Luka Modrić, six, when he too had to leave home because of the civil war in Yugoslavia. By the time Mario Mandžukić started playing football, he had already fled to Germany. Danijel Subašić is a Serbian Croat, his ethnicity contested even as Croatia grapples with its biggest achievement in football.

War is an overused metaphor in sport, but it is at the centre of stories which populate the Croatian team which has stunned even the most optimistic observer. Modrić’s control and his turn enthrals, but they are also a reminder of the parking lot of a refugee hotel where he nurtured his skill. Even as his family struggled to make ends meet, here was a slight boy who would kick the ball into the concrete wall to control it, and run in the other direction. A shape-shifting of his uncertain frame that we see every time he steps on the pitch.