Football in Spain remains on hold, but the Croatian midfielder says he would gladly take a health risk if it meant La Liga could restart

Ivan Rakitic has declared he would willingly take the risk of catching coronavirus if it ensured Spanish football could resume.

The Barcelona midfielder said it is football’s duty to society to “give a feeling of unity that we need so much”, with La Liga having been on hold since mid-March.

Barcelona top the table, two points clear of Real Madrid, with 11 rounds of games to be played. It remains unclear whether the 2019-20 competition will resume although there are hopes of a June return to action.

Leagues in France and Holland have been abandoned and Spain‘s health minister Salvador Illa has cast doubt on whether football in the country can be played in the near future.

Rakitic told Marca that talk around the incentive for returning has centred around economic factors when the focus should be on how football can improve public morale.

He said in the newspaper: “I want to play. It is evident that we must try to return with the best sanitary guarantees but we must also know that they will never be 100 per cent.

“But that same risk will be borne by all workers on their return to work. Supermarket employees also change in dressing rooms and have the same or more possibility of getting it as we do.

“They take that risk and I want to take it too. I think we have that debt and I’m sure if we asked the fans they would love for there to be football.”

The Croatian was asked to confirm the assertion that he would risk his own health.

He added: “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 playing for us from the first minute and that they will continue like this for many days.”

Rakitic said he hoped football people, like everyone, would be “a little bit more human” after experiencing the coronavirus pandemic.

And he vowed players would be “more plugged in than ever” when games return, stressing they would give everything even if matches must proceed behind closed doors.

Rakitic said: “Lately I have heard many people talk about the problems there would be if we do not play, economic problems, European competitions, calendar, promotions, relegations, but I have not heard anyone talk about people, those people for whom their team is part of their life and they have suddenly had it taken away.

“Socially we must take a step, to be able to entertain people with what they like, so that we all stop thinking about viruses and disease, so that we can return to joking around with our neighbour from the opposite team.”

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