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Ivan Rakitic knows all to well the effects war can have on families as his own were forced to flee Croatia before war broke out in the former Yugoslavian state. They moved to Mohlin, Switzerland where Ivan was born and subsequently grew up. His parents, naturally, didn’t feel comfortable talking about it especially when Rakitic was young.
“The most important thing for my parents was to have a normal life.” They wanted their son to go to home, make friends and do everything else a young boy would do. The older he become the more questions he asked as he saw what was happening on TV. “They explained a little bit about the situation with Croatia and Serbia but didn’t want to go too in-depth.”
When Rakitic was about 7-years-old he went to Croatia for the first time. The war was over but he was still very curious to know about his family’s homeland. “Later, when I was a little bit older and I was speaking with friends that had been in a similar situation to me, and together we talked about what happened. In this moment we were kids so didn’t understand all the details. The biggest question was ‘why?’ as we were all living together at the time.” It’s something he knows affected his parents a lot despite them shielding him from the news.
When asked if seeing the Syrian refugees brought back thoughts of what happened to his family, he said “Yes. I think it’s also important to see that all of the people are together. People in Croatia are very open, happy to give them everything – and of course, if you can help you must do it.”
The refugee crisis in Syria is something that is discussed in the Barcelona dressing room but it’s also hard, as they don’t make the decisions. “We can offer them our support but it’s difficult for us do something from here. I hope that everything will end in the best way and that they’ll arrive where they have to and in the new few years we don’t see something like this again.”