MIRKO CROCOP IS CROATIA'S NEWEST HERO
09/24/2006

While the September 10th PRIDE FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE 2006 was heating up Japan, PRIDE fever was taking over Croatia. The event was broadcast live via satellite in Croatia, the homeland of Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.


The television station in charge of the PRIDE broadcast, Nova TV, began broadcasting its regular programming following the end of Filipovic's Semi-Final Round against Wanderlei Silva as the world waited for the start of the Final Round. However, interest in the event was so great that the station was soon inundated with phone calls from viewers asking when the Final Round would begin and asking for an earlier broadcast of the Final Round. So many calls came in that many viewers where unable to get their calls through.

Additionally, despite the event being held on a Sunday, Croatians virtually disappeared from the streets to spend the day in front of televisions in their homes and at sports bars cheering on Filipovic. Official ratings have not been published yet but they are expected to have easily exceeded a 50% share.

When the event was over and Filipovic returned to Croatia on the September 12th, he was met at Zagreb Airport by several members of Parliament, including former Prime Minister Ivaca Racan, the man that scouted Filipovic for politics. He was also met by the Mayor of Zagreb and strong candidate for the future Croatian Presidency, Milan Bandic, in addition to many television, newspaper and magazine reporters. More than 1,600 Croatian fans were waiting at the airport hoping to get a glimpse of their returning countryman and Filipovic spent an hour with them after arriving. Croatia's newest hero was greeted with screams when he appeared in front of the fans. Filipovic also received a congratulatory message from the current Prime Minister of Croatia, Ivo Sanader, after he left the airport. Truly, Filipovic is supported by all of Croatia.

On the day after his return to Croatia, Filipovic participated in a talk show in front of more than 1,000 fans in Zagreb, where he gave autographs and took photos. He was also very busy in his hometown of Privlaka, appearing at victory parties and as a special guest of the Croatian Soccer League. He was warmly welcomed on the soccer field and presented with a painting and a personalized uniform by the entire Board of Directors of the soccer team FC Cibalia.

Every day since his victory has been busy for Filipovic, including appearances on Nova TV's popular talk show, Epicenter, and there is still no rest in sight for Croatia's newest hero.