Ivana Knoll from Croatia is the clear media star of the 2022 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The cheerleader model became famous in the tournament’s first week after posting several candid photos of herself in a swimsuit on Instagram. She then attended the match between Croatia and Morocco (0:0) wearing a tight dress in the colours of the traditional Croatian checkered dress – it even covered her head, but the cutout on her chest drew attention.
Ivana wore a short, sleeveless dress during Croatia’s second game against Canada (4:1), which they lost. At that point, she received numerous remarks regarding the breach of local laws and Muslim practices. Someone even requested to deport Knoll. However, it did not worry her.
“I was shocked when I first found out about the local rules. It is forbidden to bare shoulders, knees, stomach – yes, everything in general. I thought: oh my god, I don’t even have things that would close everything. I was very angry. Because I’m not a Muslim. And if we in Europe respect their choice to wear a hijab or niqab, I think they should also respect our lifestyle, our religion. I can wear dresses and bikinis – I’m a Catholic from Croatia who came here because of the World Cup.
But when she arrived in Qatar, she was pleasantly surprised: there were no problems because of the clothes. “They allow you to wear whatever you want – there are restrictions only in government buildings. I am not at all afraid of any punishments, let alone arrest. The locals confirmed to me that I could wear whatever I wanted. But I had no idea that a bikini video on the beach could be such a big deal. The whole of Qatar discussed it! Everyone recognizes me,” she said.
You must have seen this picture: two locals notice Ivanna walking up the stairs, and then they take out their phones and photograph her from the back. With this collage, Knoll celebrated reaching the one million followers mark on Instagram.
In 2016, numerous media outlets reported that Ivanna won the Miss Croatia contest. The opposite is true. In actuality, she is a finalist (top 15) for Miss Croatia World 2016, and she was awarded a special prize by Miss Media.
She currently has 1,200,000 social media followers and her own swimwear line.