A World Cup of riveting drama continues with reports that the Croatian assistant coach has been sacked for posting a politically-charged video to social media following the penalty shootout win over hosts Russia.
Vukojevic, a former Croatia international, published a video in which he and defender Domagoj Vida dedicated the dramatic win to Ukraine, prompting criticism from Russian supporters.
The clip showed Vida, who scored in extra time at the Fisht Stadium, roaring “Glory to Ukraine!” while Vukojevic announced that “This victory is for Dynamo [Kiev] and Ukraine.”
“The Croatian Football Federation hereby notifies the public that Ognjen Vukojevic 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,” a statement read.
“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.”
Fifa issued a formal warning to Vukojevic regarding his behaviour and the former midfielder reacted to his dismissal by telling Russian newspaper Sport Express: “There’s no politics in football. It’s a joke for my friends from Dynamo Kiev. I love Russians and I love Ukrainians.”
Croatia take on England in the second semifinal of the World Cup Wednesday, where the winner will go up against either France or Belgium for Sunday’s showpiece final.