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The Croatian Football Federation notified the public that Ognjen Vukojević has been relieved of his duties as an associate of the coaching staff of the Croatian national team by decision of the management of the Croatian FA, and that he will no longer be a member of the Croatian delegation at the FIFA World Cup in Russia. Croatian Football Federation reported that on their official website.
“Vukojević published a controversial video on social media after the match between Croatia and Russia in the quarter-final of the FIFA World Cup. The FIFA have opened a disciplinary procedure on the matter. The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has decided to revoke Vukojević's team accreditation at the FIFA World Cup and to relieve him of his duties as an observer for the Croatian national team,” reads the message.
HNS also apologized to the Russian public for the actions of a member of the Croatian delegation.
“Ognjen Vukojević and Domagoj Vida likewise apologize for their statements, which were in no way intended to have political connotations, yet which unfortunately left room for such interpretations,” stated in the message.
As it was reported earlier, on July 7, after Croatia’s win against the Russian team in the World Cup 2018, Vida and team’s coach Ognjen Vukojević posted a video, where the player chants ‘Glory to Ukraine’ and Vukojević says: “This win is for Dynamo and for Ukraine. Go, Croatia!”
British agency The Sun called “Glory to Ukraine” “the chant which the Ukrainian army and the nationalist cause that is opposed to Russian territorial claims on the country.”
Independent agency called “Glory to Ukraine” "a populist phrase that continues to be used by many Ukrainians after the events of 2014, when a pro-Russian government in Kiev was overturned, Russia annexed Crimea, and conflict broke out in eastern Ukraine."
FIFA rules do not allow political statements of the football players so it issued a warning to a Croatia player who praised Ukraine, according to the Washington Post. Vida was a star of Croatia’s win on penalties over Russia on Saturday, scoring a header in extra time and converting a penalty in the shootout.
Vida and Vukojevic played together at Ukrainian club Dynamo Kyiv. Later, Vida commented on the accusations:
“It wasn’t a political message, but a gratitude to Ukraine where we played many years, for support. We did not want to offend anyone. I have many friends both in Ukraine and Russia and I am proud of this friendship. I am glad to know Russian language and I like Russian hospitability during the World Cup and I sincerely hope that this message will not be taken other than one expessing gratitude to our friends in Ukraine for their support – not in the game with Russia, but during the whole championship,” Vida said.
Ukraine’s Embassy explained to British media the meaning of ‘Glory to Ukraine’ - truly patriotic statement without any nationalism.
“We would like to remind The Sun & Independent that "Slava Ukraini" means "Glory to Ukraine"- a patriotic expression like "viva la France","long live the Queen","Let Poland be Poland". Will you call those who chant these phrases nationalists&boo them?" Ukrainian diplomats wrote.