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In Croatia, player union leader Dario Simic helped organize a conference in Zagreb to raise awareness about mental health in football.

“Mental health is underexposed in our country,” said Simic, president of player association HUNS. “We are trying to convince clubs to start thinking about players’ mental health.”

Sport psychologists, medical specialists and players spoke at the meeting attended by football players, the mayor of Zagreb and government officials.

“We encourage athletes to talk about their issues and want to prevent that they are fighting these on their own,” said Simic, who played 100 times for Croatia. “We need to get rid of the stigma that athletes don’t have these problems.”

To educate players the union has produced a video with footballers and other athletes discussing mental health.

“Athletes are under great pressure, each performance is scrutinized in public, and often we set ourselves goals that are too high,” Simic said.

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