The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has issued a press release on Monday after news that former international and associate of the coaching staff, Ognjen Vukojević, has left the camp just two days before the team’s semi-final clash with England at the World Cup.
Here is the statement from the HNS.
“The Croatian Football Federation hereby notifies 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.
Vukojević published a controversial video on social media after the match between Croatia and Russia in the quarter-final of the FIFA World Cup. FIFA has 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.
HNS hereby apologizes 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.”
Following the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinal match between Russia and Croatia in Sochi, Vida and Vukojević sent messages on social media intended for their friends in Ukraine – where they had spent a significant part of their careers – saying ‘Glory Ukraine’. FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to issue a warning, based on Article 4/2 and 5/4 of the Regulations of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The Croatian Football Federation emphasized that the aforementioned messages were merely a response to numerous messages of support received from Ukraine during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, considering the deep impact Vida and Vukojević had in Ukraine when playing for powerhouse Dynamo Kyiv. Nonetheless, the Croatian Football Federation pointed out to both Vida and Vukojević, as well as all other internationals, to refrain from any messages that could be politically interpreted in the future.
“I regret that some media representatives have interpreted our communication in such a manner. It was definitely no political message, but a simple thank you for all the support from Ukraine, where Vukojević and I spent a number of years. Our intention was not to offend anyone. Throughout my career, I have had teammates from many countries and I respect them all, and just as I have many friends in Ukraine, I have a number of them in Russia – and I am proud of all of them. I am happy to speak Russian language, I enjoy Russian hospitality at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and I sincerely hope that this message will not be understood as anything else but an expression of gratitude to our friends in Ukraine for their support – not in the match against Russia, but during the entire World Cup”, said Vida.
“The lack of political implication and any offensive significance is also confirmed by a long-term friendly relationship between Croatian Football Federation and Russian Football Federation, that will continue to be nurtured in the future. Finally, Croatian Football Federation and Croatia national football team fully support the principles of the fight against any form of intolerance in football and mixing politics with sport,” HNS stated.