Croatia Assistant Coach Sacked For ‘Politically-Charged’ Video

Vukojevic and Domagoj Vida posted the “Glory to Ukraine” video on social media after Saturday’s match.

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Croatian coaching staff member Ognjen Vukojevic (left) and player Domagoj Vida posted a political video on social media.

Croatia’s Football Federation (HNS) sacked Ognjen Vukojevic, a member of the national team's coaching staff, over a ‘politically-charged’ video he posted after Croatia beat Russia in the World Cup quarter-finals, HNS said in a statement on Monday, 9 July.

Vukojevic and Croatia defender Domagoj Vida published the “Glory to Ukraine” video on social media after the match on Saturday, a move that was criticised by Russian politicians and led to a warning from FIFA's disciplinary committee.

Relations between Ukraine and World Cup hosts Russia remain fraught after the latter's 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its backing for a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country.

HNS said it had revoked Vukojevic's accreditation at the World Cup and relieved him of his duties as an observer for the Croatia squad.

HNS hereby apologises to the Russian public for the actions of a member of the Croatian delegation.
Statement from the Croatian Football Federation

HNS said Vukojevic and Vida apologised for their statements, saying they were not intended to be political messages but "unfortunately left room for such interpretations".

Both Vukojevic and 29-year-old Vida previously played for Ukrainian club Dynamo Kiev.

Croatia face England in the World Cup semi-finals in Moscow on Wednesday, 11 July.

Questions on the subject were not allowed when Croatia players Mario Mandzukic and Andrej Kramaric spoke at a news conference in Moscow later on Monday.

"We have been quite clear on the matter, that is the position of the federation and we don't need to ask the players," a Croatia team spokesman said.

FIFA later handed Vukojevic a fine of 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,000) and a warning for unsporting behaviour, adding that the assistant coach had apologised for his actions.

How Social Media Reacted

The incident generated a lot of chatter on Twitter. Many showed their support to Vukojevic and Vida.

However, many others believed the statement was provocative.

FIFA has decided Vida will not be banned from playing the semi-final, resisting pressure from the Kremlin. Russian fans will display their national pride by supporting England in the semi-final clash.

It was definitely no political message, but a simple ‘thank you’ for all the support from Ukraine, where Vukojevic and I spent a number of years. Our intention was not to offend anyone.
Domagoj Vida, Croatian defender

(With inputs from Reuters.)

(For complete FIFA World Cup 2018 coverage, click here to visit our special WC page)

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