Croatia invites Salvadorian photographer Yuri Cortez on a vacation
Yuri Cortez became a viral star after he took extreme close-ups of the Croatian football team's euphoria while being smashed by their celebration. Croatia's National Tourist Board just invited him for a week holiday and he accepted. The photographer expects to meet the players again, "not on top of me, but close."
The long distance call carried an invitation. The caller, Kristjan Staničić, was ringing from the other side of the 6,285 miles separating Croatia from Mexico to confirm the email Yuri Cortez had received. “Just make sure to bring your good humor and your camera. Please specify the conditions under you would like to visit Croatia,” read the email. The sender was Croatia’s National Tourist Board.
In the phone call, Staničić, the director of the board, reiterated to Cortez. He told him he was invited to “know the country, all its beauties, all its food and all its culture,” as recounted Cortez, the Salvadorian France Press photographer who was buried by the euphoric avalanche of the Croatian football team’s pass to the Russia 2018 World Cup finals. The whole team smashed Cortez with their bliss after Mandzukic scored the goal that gave the team the win. The photographer was crushed at the bottom, holding his camera tight, shooting non-stop, always smiling. This is how he shot extreme close-ups of the frantic faces of the Croatian players. The joy passed to Cortez, even being knocked down by it.
Now he will go to Croatia for a week vacation, on an all-expenses-paid trip at the end of August or the beginning of September.
“After showing him Zagreb, we will show Yuri everything that is good in Croatia, in our coasts, our islands and in continental Croatia,” Kristjan Stanicic remarked, according to a France Press dispatch published on France 24.
So Croatia taps into the viral boom of that fortuitous moment in order to keep promoting one of the main sources for the country’s wealth (tourism accounts for 20 percent of the nation’s GDP) and Cortez gets to go there for a holiday. Win-win.
“I think I will have the opportunity to see them closely again [the players]. Not on top of me, but close,” Cortez remarked, as quoted by AFP.
Those same players — the one who helped Cortez get up after the avalanche, the one who scored the defining goal and helped him get up, the one who kissed him in the cheek — are now, not in vain, the most important promotional image of the Croatian National Tourist Board website. “Welcome to Croatia, full of excellent players,” is the main message. In the video that is shown as soon as opening the page, the players invite us to go to their country (in English). Right after the World Cup’s runner-up made it to the finals, the visits to the website multiplied by four.
Cortez, 53, is ultra-experienced in covering violent conflicts in his own country, as well as in Peru, Mexico, Iraq and Afghanistan. This was the fourth time he worked at a World Cup. Being smashed by the euphoria of the Croatian team made him a social media viral star. This changed his routines. That same night, he recalled, Cortez found hundreds of incoming calls on his phone when he landed back in Mexico. His daughter is receiving a lot of Facebook requests.
Cortez is not a constant social media user, but he made the announcement of his trip to Croatia on his Twitter account.
Some people offered to carry his bags. Or his camera equipment.