Croatia Fire Assistant Coach for Posting 'Glory to Ukraine' Video to Facebook

Christopher Simpson@@CJSimpsonBRFeatured ColumnistJuly 9, 2018

A picture shows a giant national flag put by the cafe owner in the old part Zagreb on July 9, 2018, ahead of the 2018 Russia World Cup semi-final football match between Crotia and England. (Photo by - / AFP)        (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
-/Getty Images

Croatia have fired assistant coach Ognjen Vukojevic after he posted a "Glory to Ukraine" video to Facebook following the penalty shootout win over Russia on Saturday.

Per the Independent, Vukojevic recorded the video with defender Domagoj Vida in which they dedicated the win over the World Cup hosts to Ukraine in a "politically charged" message, with the former saying "This victory is for Dynamo [Kiev] and Ukraine."

The Croatian Football Federation subsequently confirmed that he had been "relieved of his duties," and added:

"The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has decided to revoke Vukojevic's team accreditation at the FIFA World Cup and to relieve him of his duties as an observer for the Croatian national team.

"HNS hereby apologizes to the Russian public for the actions of a member of the Croatian delegation. Ognjen Vukojevic 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."

According to the Independent, the "Glory to Ukraine" chant was "widely used during the 2014 revolution that drove Ukraine’s pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych from power" and is now used by "Ukrainian ultra-nationalists."

Vukojevic, 34, made 55 appearances for Croatia between 2007 and 2014. He joined Dynamo Kiev, where he spent seven years as a player, as a scout last year.

Besiktas defender Vida, who scored in the 2-2 draw on Saturday, spent five seasons with Dynamo before he made the switch to Turkey in the January transfer window earlier this year.

Vida received a warning in relation to his conduct from FIFA, per ESPN's Artur Petrosyan:

Artur Petrosyan @arturpetrosyan

Just a warning then. Who would have thought it... FIFA: "We can confirm that FIFA's Disciplinary Committee has sent a warning to the player Domagoj Vida due to his video statement." https://t.co/BZeubAWxBH

According to Russian outlet Sport Express (h/t The Independent), he denied the intention to make a political statement and said: "There's no politics in football. It’s a joke for my friends from Dynamo Kiev. I love Russians and I love Ukrainians."

It is not the first time at this World Cup that FIFA have had to deal with politicised celebrations from players.

After they fired Switzerland to a 2-1 win over Serbia in the group stage, Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri were sanctioned for making a two-headed eagle gesture with their hands, in reference to the Albanian flag, while Swiss captain Stephan Lichtsteiner also joined in the celebrations.

The trio could have been hit with two-match bans, but FIFA instead opted to fine the pair £7,600 apiece, while Lichtsteiner was fined half that amount.