May 1, 2020 – Ivan Rakitic smiles on the cover of Spain’s most popular sports daily Marca. The Croatia representative and Barcelona champion was given the space he deserves for his status over the past years at Camp Nou, though he spoke about football the least. In Spain, the main topic today is the coronavirus pandemic.
Tl.portal reports that football players in Spain are preparing to return to training, but the situation with the coronavirus pandemic is still far from over – more than 212,000 people have been infected, with some 25,000 dead from the effects of this vicious infection.
So, what is Ivan Rakitic missing most during home isolation?
“Like everyone, I miss the little joys and rituals that make up life; driving my daughter to school, breakfast in the city, physical activity, peace. In this situation, I learned a lot, but the most important thing is that I now appreciate the seemingly small things far more and moments that we normally took for granted. And, of course, family and closest friends. In this regard, isolation was particularly difficult for me, because my family and close friends were scattered throughout Switzerland, Croatia, and Spain. I thank God everyone is fine,” Rakitic said, admitting he could not imagine living in something like this:
“No one could have imagined something like this. I know that we at the club took the whole situation very seriously. We went to play the first game of the Champions League round of 16 with Napoli, already aware that anything could happen. We must now be positive and also aware that everything we do to prevent the spread of the infection is truly good for us. I learned that you have to appreciate those little details you go through every day. The simplest moments are also the most beautiful. With family, friends, people you love. This has taught us a lot.”
The situation is not at all pleasant, and it has been scary for many.
“I would not say fear is the right word, I was more caught up in some uncertainty. I’m a person who lives organized, I don’t like surprises of this type. I like to have things under control, and this has thrown my family, from Seville, Switzerland and Croatia, into uncertainty. It is good that there are modern technologies so that we could motivate each other a lot. I admit, there were moments of anxiety, but thank God my family is fine,” admits Rakitic, who has a message of encouragement for all:
“Many around the world have suffered and they are all our heroes. I would like to express eternal gratitude to them. It is clear that humanity will never forget this, but we must not allow ourselves to be left with only ugly and negative memories. We should always be in solidarity with one another, as in the time of the corona. Let’s get the power to move forward.”
What is the future of football? In some countries, the season will not reconvene.
“Everyone has the right to make their own decision. We see that the French league, one of the most important in Europe, will not play and that must be respected. Each national federation will decide what is best for it and how to bridge this gap of non-playing. I also think that one cannot make the same decisions, that everything cannot continue at the same time,” said Rakitic, who still thinks that football holds an essential place in everyday life:
“Football is very important to many people, and the proof of that is the money that revolves around it. I have heard a lot lately about the problems that await football if it is not played. Of course, they are economical – money, European competitions, promotions and relegation, TV rights, calendars … But, it’s not about the fans, those who have their football taken away overnight and all those who live for football, “says Rakitic, and adds:
“I think it’s time for all the football staff to stand up and unanimously say that they are not playing football for economic reasons. We need to get young people interested in doing what they love, regardless of the millions who invest in football. For starters, one should move away from thoughts of the virus and infection, have fun with friends, find a reason to be happy. Now is the time for all athletes to unite and support those who need the most support.”
What is his attitude toward playing?
“It’s football time. Now footballers have to give back to society what society has already given them through this fight against the coronavirus. I know I want to play. Now it’s time to get back to football. It is obvious that we will have to return with the best sanitary conditions, but neither do they guarantee 100% certainty for all actors. Risks will be experienced by all workers and employees with the same problems, from supermarket workers onwards. They run the risk every day, I’m ready to do the same,” said Rakitic, who openly admits that he wants to take the risk of contracting the coronavirus if it means playing football again:
“Without any doubt, yes. I say this, aware that the risk of infection is very low, but also in solidarity with those who have been ‘playing from the first minute’ for us since the corona began and have not stopped. Supermarket workers also change in the locker rooms and are at greater risk than us for becoming infected. I, too, want to take that risk. I’m sure all the fans would like football to come back. We need to let people enjoy football, and football itself should be the first way of thanking all the fighters of the coronavirus,” claims Rakitic, noting that without the fans it won’t be the same:
“It will be difficult and strange to play in empty stands, and rarely does this happen. But we will be equally motivated because we will know that we are being escorted from our homes by an entire army of fans. Every time I see a kid in my jersey I think about how much effort their parents made to buy that for them. We will not disappoint them. We will know how to feel their support. I hope we get another dose of humanity after all this and know how to appreciate what’s important to us.”
To conclude, perhaps the most difficult topic, at least when it comes to Ivan Rakitic – his status in Barcelona and his apparent departure from the club at the end of this season.
“My situation in Barcelona has not changed. I am at the peak of my career and in my best years (32), fully motivated and convinced that I can have and will have anything. The market situation has changed a lot, but I do not regret the decisions made so far because I have reached the level of maturity to anticipate various situations. If by the end of the season they would still take the championship and the Champions League, wish us luck… I will try to do my best, both for the team and for myself. I want to enjoy football and start playing as soon as possible. When the season is over, I will analyze what to do next,” concluded Ivan Rakitic in an extensive interview with Marca.
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