The Hug Between Two Nations that Delighted A Region

Daniela Rogulj

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Croatia’s Ivica Tucak approaches Serbia’s Dejan Savić, hugs him, and congratulates him on winning the Gold medal. That was the image left in the minds of many after the Olympic finals in Rio de Janeiro last year when Croatia was defeated by Serbia. Last night in Budapest after the FINA World Championship semi-finals, Serbia’s coach returned the favor.

Serbia’s coach Dejan Savić, as hard as it was to swallow suffering the first defeat to Croatia in seven years, approached Croatia’s coach Ivica Tucak after the semi-final match of the FINA World Championship to congratulate him on Croatia’s win. Honest and without shame, the two hugged, reports 24 Sata on July 28, 2017. 

The hug, however, goes much deeper than that.

“Hold on a little longer, and here’s why. Look at these smart, clear-headed, good people and great athletes. Savić stretched out his hand to the Croatian coach with a smile, aware that they were better than us this time,” said a commentator from Radio Television of Serbia, not holding back his enthusiasm when saying that this embrace is something we could all learn from. 

The Croatian and Serbian water polo teams have had their fair share of meetings over the years. It is unfortunate, however, that the language before each meeting typically leads to a discussion about the war, country tensions, or anything but the actual sport. Tucak and Savić, as well as the players on both teams, have shown that they are, above all, great athletes, good people, and positive examples for all of us in the region. 

The Serbian coach and team continued showing good sportsmanship after the match and gracefully congratulated the Croatian side for the first time in seven years.

“Congratulations to Croatia for a deserved victory. They physically overpowered us, and we defended poorly with a player down,” said Serbia’s Dejan Savić after the game.

“We did not play a good level of defense. We left them chances they couldn’t miss, and that is the main reason for the defeat. They deserve this victory, they are always at the top, and a great job to the team for how they played,” said Andrija Prlainovic, Serbia’s best player who was born in Dubrovnik. 

“Croatia did not stop at any moment, and they had an excellent rhythm. They tried to disturb our rhythm, and they were able to do so at times. Croatia is made up of players that have fantastic quality. They have improved their game since the Olympic Games in Rio. I congratulate them for advancing to the finals, and we are left to give our best and win the bronze,” said Serbian captain Filip Filipovic.

Bravo to both Croatia and Serbia for showing us how it’s done. 



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