Novak Đoković is under fire from many in Serbia for saying he supports Croatian footballers.
Serbian tennis star Novak Đoković, who used to be the world’s number one player, said recently that he supports Croatian footballers at the World Cup, which drew fire from parts of the Serbian public. In an interview with the Serbian daily Telegraf, he explained his reasons.
“There are sports values with which we all grow up. Of course, everybody has a different attitude towards them, because the influence on the environment in which you have grown up and in which you live is very important. These are factors influencing that attitude, but at the same time, there are universal sport values that we all recognize – fair play, respect towards opponents, respect for sports rules, personal dedication.
Sports have their ‘universal language’, they erase boundaries between people, overcome differences in religion, race, nationality – and this is what attracts people to sports. That is why people of all generations – and especially young people – look up to athletes as their role models, because they live through temptations, sacrifice themselves, and give an example to people how to behave in other challenging situations in life.
Of course, you are not always able to be perfect in every form of behaviour, but I try to always be aware of my actions and their meaning. In tennis, the relationships between the players are much more direct, more intimate, which is certainly different in team sport,” said Đoković.
Throughout the years during which he has been in the focus of interest, Novak Đoković has always demonstrated that he wanted to be independent in his opinions and attitudes. With this statement, he underscored his principles and explained the motives and causes which led to his position (which many in Serbia consider to be controversial) about the World Cup.
This lesson is something which many in Croatia would be well-served to learn as well, and not use sports as an excuse and means to spread intolerance towards other nations.