World Cup 2018: Croatia defender avoids match ban over post-match celebrations after Russia win

Defender Domagoj Vida was filmed saying 'glory to Ukraine' in the wake of his side's quarter-final win over Russia

Samuel Lovett
Monday 09 July 2018 09:36 BST
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Croatia’s Domagoj Vida has avoided punishment from Fifa after being filmed saying “glory to Ukraine“ in the wake of his side’s quarter-final win over Russia.

The defender, who scored Croatia's second goal deep into extra time, recorded the footage with Croatian scout Ognjen Vukojevic during the side’s celebrations in Sochi.

In the video, posted on YouTube, Vida shouts out “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.

Vukojevic, who earned 55 caps as a defensive midfielder before ending his international career after the 2014 World Cup, adds: “This victory is for Dynamo (Kiev) and for Ukraine.”

The video has sparked a backlash in Russia, which continues to support the independence claims of Ukraine’s Russian-speaking minority.

In 2014, the Crimean peninsula was annexed from Ukraine by Russia. While a number of countries have come to recognise Crimea as part of the Russian Federation, Ukraine continues to claim the region as an integral part of its territory.

Given the political connotations, Vida’s post-match celebrations threatened to draw punishment from Fifa.

However, after a brief review of the incident, the governing body confirmed that it had simply issued a warning to the defender over his comments.

“We can confirm that FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee has sent a warning to the player Domagoj Vida due to his video statement following the 2018 Fifa World Cup match between Russia and Croatia,” Fifa said.

According to Fifa’s disciplinary code, political slogans are banned from the game while Section 54 states that: “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 (£3,800).”

Vida later played down his celebrations as a “joke”.

“This victory is for Croatia. No politics,” he said.

“It’s a joke. I’ve got friends there since I joined Dynamo Kyiv, I didn’t mean anything else.

“I don’t why Russian fans might not get it. I like Russian people. It was just a joke.”

Earlier in the tournament, Switzerland’s Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri were disciplined after their controversial goal celebrations against Serbia were deemed to have breached Fifa regulations.

Following a short investigation, Fifa opted to fine the pair “for unsporting behaviour contrary to the principles of fair-play during their goal(s) celebrations at the match Switzerland vs. Serbia.”

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