At first, nobody could quite believe yesterday's news reports about the earthquake which struck Zagreb. The Croatian capital was already experiencing unprecedented scenes and protocol due to Coronavirus. But, just before 6.30 yesterday, a more immediate danger woke the city's residents. The earthquake measured 5.4 on the Richter scale and caused considerable damage to buildings across the city and in neighbouring villages and towns. Aftershocks continued throughout the day, night and even the next morning.
As pictures and video of the aftermath began to emerge, Croatia's football stars were quick to voice their support for Zagreb and its residents. Almost all are isolating themselves and training at home, as sports fixtures have been cancelled due to Coronavirus. Responding to the news, Real Madrid star and Ballon d'Or winner Luka Modrić posted a picture of a destroyed car on Instagram, accompanied by the message 'Hold on Zagreb!'
Modrić's teammate in the Croatian national side, Andrej Kramarić, also took to social media. He recorded a video in which he called for people to be brave, determined and, despite the setback of the earthquake, to stay at home. Similar messages of support came from the Croatian Football Federation and the coach of the national team, Zlatko Dalić.
Messages of support for Zagreb were also sent by famous international Croatian football players Dejan Lovren (Liverpool FC), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona), Ivan Perišić (Bayern Munich) and former Bayern Munich, Atlético Madrid and Juventus striker Mario Mandžukić. Players and management of the Croatian national football team later announced they had raised 4.2 million kuna to aid the effects Coronavirus and the earthquake have had on the population.
Croatia's international elite were not the only members of the country's football community to get involved. Players from Croatia's leading league side, Dinamo Zagreb, all sent messages of support and the team's fans were seen on the ground helping emergency services in evacuating babies from a Zagreb hospital. Football supporters groups from Osijek, Rijeka and Split have already been involved in community initiatives responding to Coronavirus. Yesterday, with the unwelcome new dimension of the earthquake, it was Dinamo Zagreb's fans who stepped up. Bravo.