Ivan Rakitic may not be clear on where he will play after the 2019/20 season, but he is clear that he wants football to return as quickly as possible.
He is even willing to take the risks associated with the coronavirus in order to return to action.
In an interview with MARCA, he discussed that and much more.
How are you coping with everything that is happening?
“With a lot of attention and respect. It’s a new situation for everyone and I think it is a time to be more united than ever, to join forces to move forward and to emerge victorious from this situation. I’m sure we can do it.”
What have you missed most about leaving the house?
“My family, my friends, the people with whom I like to share my life. I have missed being able to take my girls to school, have breakfast in the town, be able to go to the training centre to train, go out to eat. I miss the simple things I did easily on a daily basis.”
Did you think you could live in this kind of situation?
“Well the truth is no, I don’t think anybody could imagine something like this. I have a lot of respect for the situation and have done since the beginning. I remember a very important moment when we were going to play the first leg of the Champions League tie in Naples, when this situation started. I made that trip with a lot of uncertainty, now I think that what we have to do is think positively, knowing that the effort we’re making is for the good of everyone. What has surprised us this time will hopefully never do so again.”
What lessons have you learnt from everything that is happening?
“Many things, but the most important thing is that I appreciate the small details much more. The simplest moments and the importance of being very close to my family. The situation has been a great lesson for everyone in many ways.”
Have you been afraid?
“I don’t know if fear is the correct word, but I’ve felt a similar sensation. Uncertainty worries me a lot, I’m a very organised person who likes to control and analyse everything with my family and the people closest to me. Having my family spread between Seville, Croatia and Switzerland has been a concern. Thank goodness we’ve all been able to connect by video call and send many messages every day, but I admit that I have had nervous moments. Thank God my whole family is fine.”
Football fans have suffered every week, and some have even died. What message do you have for them?
“I believe that there are many people who have struggled and suffered with this situation, in some way they are our heroes. Some have taken irreparable blows. I would like to convey my support, hugs and appreciation forever. We will never forget this, but we can’t stay with only negative information. We should always maintain the solidarity shown in this very difficult time. We must draw strength from anywhere to pull forward. The message I can give is of full support for those who’ve had to deal with such painful losses.”
Some countries don’t want football to return, what are your thoughts?
“I respect everyone’s opinion. In these recent days we have heard the French league, one of the biggest in the world, won’t be completed. We must respect that decision. Every country and every league has to analyse their own data and the needs of their situation with regards to how everything is and then decide what is best in each case. I don’t think that an equal decision can be made for everyone. What I’m sure of is that all countries and all leagues, when they make the decision, they will do so with the best interests of the citizens and the athletes. I support and respect the decisions that each country makes.”
What place should football occupy when things return to normal?
“Football is very important to many people and the proof of this is that it moves a lot of money. Lately, I have heard many people talk about the problems there would be if we don’t play, economic problems, issues with European competitions, calendar issues, promotions and relegations… But I haven’t heard anyone talk about people, those people who, for them, their team is part of their life and they have suddenly had it taken away. I think it is time for those of us who are involved in football to take a step forward, and I’m not saying this for economic reasons. I recently read about the amount of millions that are moved in taxes and the jobs that professional football in Spain is responsible for, while helping grassroots football and other minority sports. I mean that socially we must take a step, to be able to entertain people with what they like and help people stop thinking all about viruses and disease. We must be able to joke with our neighbour who supports a rival team again, it’s important that we have as many reasons to hug as possible, when it’s permitted. I think we have to try to make football unite us, to give a feeling of unity that we need so badly. We have the possibility to support others and we must do so.”
Should footballers play?
“I want to play. It’s evident that we must try to return with the best health guarantees, but we must also know that they can never be 100 percent. The same risk will be there for all workers on their return to jobs. Supermarket workers also change in dressing rooms and have the same or an even higher chance of getting it than we do. They take that risk and I want to take it too. I think that we have a duty and I’m sure if we asked the fans then they would love for there to be football. We have to try to make people enjoy football again. We footballers can be an example, giving support to all the workers who have shown us strength. I want to join that force.”
Are you willing to risk getting the coronavirus?
“Without a doubt, and I say this from the awareness that the risk will be very small, but also because of the solidarity with those who have been fighting for us from the first minute, and they have done so for many days.”
Do you think you’re indebted to society?
“I don’t know if we are in debt, but what is certain is that society has given us a status that is well above the average. I pay a lot of attention to the fans and the efforts they make to see us in stadiums and on pay-to-watch TV stations. They will meet us at the exit of the stadium, training ground or even at airports. In those moments, every time I see a child with my shirt on, I think how much effort their parents will have made to buy it for them. That effort is what I think we have to do now, prepare ourselves well, try to control the risks and return football to the people for the love that they give us.”
What do you think about football returning without fans in the stands?
“It will be very hard and very unusual for us, but I would like to say to the fans that we will be more focused than ever. We will know they will be at home living it with the same passion as always and that we won’t disappoint them. Together we will draw the necessary strength to get out of this situation and we will surely be able to feel the support of fans in their homes.”
Will football be the same?
“Hopefully after this we will all be a little more human and realise the things that are really important. What we have to do is prepare ourselves well and try to play in the best possible way. It is clear that in this situation, even with empty stadiums at the beginning, it will be something different but I’m sure that very soon everything will return to normal and we will return to enjoying football as we always have. I’m sure that both fans and players will give everything to achieve that. We will not forget how to play football and the fans will not stop feeling that passion for the sport. Soon everything will be the same as it was before.”
Would you prefer to win LaLiga or the Champions League this season?
“Hopefully both can be played again soon, I really want that to be the case. Everyone who knows me knows that my idea is to go for everything possible by preparing ourselves in the best possible way. We try to win every game, looking at everything that comes ahead. If we can win LaLiga, then winning the Champions League as well will make it even better. I want to fight and fight for everything.”
Has the situation regarding your future changed?
“No, my situation has not changed. I have already spoken about all this on several occasions. Now I really want to go back and fight for those titles that we are talking about, giving my best. I’m at the best moment of my career, my best age and this is a specific motivation for me. I’m convinced that I can do it, I have worked very hard this month and a half at home to be stronger than ever. I’m full of the belief that I will be able to return to work with my teammates.”
The transfer market is something else that will have changed, do you have any regrets?
“No, I’m very calm, the maturity that I have gained through a career in football helps me understand everything better. I don’t regret anything. Everything I do I always do with my best will. I always try to do my best, for my team and for myself. It’s my way of being and it has gone well for me and I will never change. Now what I do is look forward to the future, I’m desperate to play again.”
What is your idea of what the future will be like?
“My main hope is to enjoy football and start playing again as soon as possible. When that happens and the season is done, then it will be time to analyse the situation. My future plan is to work hard, give my best, enjoy football and try to win everything.”