Jurgen Klopp & Igor Rudan: the Only COVID-19 Opinions You Need

Total Croatia News

Screenshot Dalmacija Danas YouTube, artwork by Tim Bourcier

April 3, 2020 – With hundreds of millions of online corona opinions out there, why there are only two you need to pay attention to – Jurgen Klopp and Igor Rudan.

One of the joys of being a writer in the era of social media, online self-entitlement and short attention spans is the fact that many people comment on an article without reading it (this observation is not directly relevant to the topic of this article, before the abusive comments start). It used to really frustrate me, so much so that I posted on Facebook a couple of years ago a simple request to Facebook – could they introduce a feature whereby only people who had opened the link could comment?

It will not happen, of course, and I soon learned a very effective way of dealing with the problem, which I adhere to 99% of the time. 

Simply stop reading the comments. 

I start the article with this observation because it came back to me last night. Many countries are now under different forms of lockdown, severe restrictions placed on their citizens. Some unnamed foreign owners of news portals in this region are even getting official threats in an effort to control their content. Allegedly. But people are free to express their opinions and insight about corona. 

And, boy, are they exercising their right… 

From a socioanthropological point of view, watching people spouting forth about corona over these last few weeks has been absolutely fascinating. People with absolutely no scientific credentials whatsoever posturing as online corona experts, many with a range of opinions which I am sure they would come to regret a week later if someone had screenshotted them. 

Perhaps someone has…

In this era of control, I mused, what if Facebook had a feature that you had to have some kind of scientific qualification to post an opinion that can, and does, influence others. It would take a ton of garbage, disinformation, and unqualified scientific opinion out of our lives just like that. 

It will not happen, of course – those opinions and the keyboard warriors they send into battle keep us addicted to the big social media networks. 

Which brings me to the topic of this article – reaction to yesterday’s article by me called As Millions of Croats Self-Isolate Responsibly, Split’s Sporting Picigin Tradition Continues.

You can see the traditional Split beach game being played yesterday in the Dalmacija Danas video, as well as more information in their article, including the results of their online poll on whether or not this was deemed responsible behaviour at the current time. 

Although I almost never read comments these days, friends do alert me when there is an interesting discussion. 

And discussion on this article WAS interesting. And very divided. 

My opinion on this is not important as I am not a scientist, but the reaction was very polarised, as one might expect. Some struggling with cabin fever in their apartments were outraged, while others could not see the problem, as they were appropriately socially distanced. 

Tim Bourcier was kind enough to contribute yesterday to our series, Foreigners Self-Isolating in Croatia: Do You Feel Safer?  It is a worthy read if you have time. 


But Tim’s response to the picigin article was even worthier, as it has crystallised a REALLY important and confusing topic for many of us. 

What is, and what is not, ok? Tim’s drawing – you will have to teach me how to do that when all this is over – shows quite correctly that the picigin players are appropriately self-distanced in the video. 


Monique Lafitte, saw no problem with this whatsoever – and it should be noted from the post on TCN FB, that there were others who agreed with her. As well as disagreed. 

So who is right?

There are only two people whose opinions I follow religiously about COVID-19 – Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp and eminent Croatian scientist, Igor Rudan, Professor at Edinburgh University. 


So I asked both Jurgen Klopp and Igor Rudan what they thought about playing picigin in Split at the current time. 

First up, the Liverpool legend:

And no, I didn’t really ask Jurgen Klopp what he thought about picigin, but his comments a few weeks ago when asked about corona went viral. 

And they remain the very best opinion for non-experts. 

I DID, however, ask Igor Rudan, for his opinion. 

For those of you who do not know Igor, his texts on corona are easily the best I have read, and TCN editor is busy translating them into English. To get a flavour, this was my favourite so far:

Igor Rudan: Cascade of Causes That Led to COVID-19 Tragedy in Italy and Other EU Countries 

(You can read others by Igor on TCN here)

For those with cabin fever looking for something to watch, Igor’s series on YouTube – Survival: The Story of Global of Health is the most interesting thing I have watched this year. Trailer below and full series here.

In addition to writing these fabulously instructive texts, Igor is also working closely with the Croatian Government to keep us all safe, but he did have a minute at 5am this morning to give his opinion on the picigin incident, and when I mentioned the Jurgen Klopp angle for this article, this was his reply.

Jurgen Klopp is my absolute favourite person! I said many times that if I wasn’t a scientist, I would be a football manager.

Yes, ok, Igor, that is great, but can we concentrate on the science for now… 

I am preparing a new article for tomorrow, so I will try to clarify many things about life in quarantine.

Lauren will translate this into English as soon as her schedule allows, and we will publish on TCN and share it immediately. 

I asked Igor if he had a one-sentence answer while we wait for what could be his most important text so far. In order to encourage him, I promised to post his photo next to his Liverpool idol. Here is what he said:

I can only say that, if you leave home, you are no longer safe, because we still have no idea how this virus can spread so easily. Until we do, I would rather stay in.

I don’t know if Tim or Monique follow my writing or not, but I would like to thank them both for highlighting this issue. It is an issue which urgently needs clarity, and if a global expert such as Igor can provide that clarity AND people adhere to that clear advice, lives will undoubtedly be saved. Thank you both. 

The only thing that remains is to speculate on whether or not Igor Rudan will be a Premier League manager next season.

I, for one, would not rule it out. 

To follow the latest on coronavirus in Croatia, follow the TCN dedicated section










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