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Croatia’s Vida avoids ban over pro-Ukraine celebration

MOSCOW:¬†Croatia defender Domagoj Vida escaped a FIFA ban on Sunday after posting a clip dedicating his country’s victory over Russia in the World Cup quarter-final to Ukraine.

Vida scored an extra-time goal and one of Croatia’s penalties in a 4-3 shootout win over the World Cup hosts in Sochi on Saturday.

Croatia will play England in the semi-final on Wednesday and some Russian officials had called on the football governing body to take tough disciplinary measures against the Balkan team.

The ponytailed 29-year-old shouted “Glory to Ukraine!” in a video posted by former Croatia international Ognjen Vukojevic shortly after the match.

Vida has just left Ukrainian club Dynamo Kyiv and Vukojevic also played for the club during his career.

FIFA said it had studied the video and decided to issue a warning to Vida but will take no further measures.

“We can confirm that FIFA’s disciplinary committee has sent a warning to the player Domagoj Vida due to his video statement,” a spokesperson told AFP.

Vida told Russian media after the clip was made public that he had meant no offence.

“I love Russian people,” Vida was quoted as saying. “It was just a joke.”

“Glory to Ukraine!” was a slogan of the former Soviet republic’s pro-EU revolution that toppled a Russian-backed president in 2014.

The revolt was condemned as illegal by Moscow and sparked a crisis in relations between the two neighbouring states.

It was followed by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and a pro-Kremlin separatist war in eastern Ukraine that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

Vukojevic added in the video: “This victory is for Dynamo (Kyiv) and for Ukraine! Croatia onwards!”

The clip was picked up by Russian state media and drew condemnation from some officials.

“Such actions should be punished,” parliament’s sports committee member Dmitry Svishchyov told the RIA Novosti state news agency.

“Political, nationalist and racist slogans are not welcome at the World Cup.”

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