HNS: Vukojević 'Relieved of Duties' for National Team After Pro-Ukraine Comments

Posted July 10, 2018

When Croatia played Russian Federation on Saturday night everyone was on the edge of their seats - it was a tense, nail-biting game.

Besiktas centre-back Vida, 29, and his former Dynamo Kiev and worldwide teammate Ognjen Vukojevic recorded a video message following Croatia's win in Sochi.

However, Vukojevic, who was capped 55 times by Croatia between 2007 and 2014, was not spared by the Croatian Football Federation who have relieved him of his duties with immediate effect. Ukraine's government accuses Russia of arming pro-Russian separatists who control part of the east of the country, and of backing up the separatist groups with Russian military forces.

Croatia's Domagoj Vida celebrates after scoring a penalty kick during the quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Fisht Stadium, in Sochi, Russia, Saturday, July 7, 2018.

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Vida could have missed the rest of the tournament had Federation Internationale de Football Association imposed a two-game suspension as set out in its disciplinary code, which prohibits "political slogans in any form" while Article 54 states: "Anyone who provokes the general public during a match will be suspended for two matches and sanctioned with a minimum fine of CHF 5,000 [$5,050]".

"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".

"Ognjen Vukojević and Domagoj Vida likewise apologize for their statements, which were in no way meant to have political connotations, yet which unfortunately left room for such interpretations". "It's a joke for my friends from Dynamo Kyiv", the newspaper quoted him as saying. "Because of this, I am sorry - and I do apologise to the Russian public, if they perceived my statements like this".

Vida used to play for Dynamo Kiev and Vukojevic also played for the Ukrainian club and now works for them as a scout.

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Seconds after he was handed a yellow card when he took his top off during his celebrations.

Croatia may have just edged past hosts Russian Federation in a penalty shootout, but ESPN FC's Craig Burley says to expect much more in the semis.

Vida is free to play for Croatia in the semi-final against England after his involvement in the "glory to Ukraine" video.

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