Image by Aleksandr Osipov from Ukraine
The World Cup governing body, FIFA, has confirmed it is investigation a video made by Croatian defender Domagoj Vida, which showed him making derogatory, political comments regarding Russia and the Ukrainian conflict.
“Besiktas centre-back Vida, 29, and his former Dynamo Kiev and international teammate Ognjen Vukojevic recorded a video message following Croatia’s victory in Sochi. In the video, posted on Facebook by Ukrainian journalist Andrey Shakhov, Vida said: “Glory to Ukraine.” The phrase has become a slogan for Ukrainian anti-Russian nationalists following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Vukojevic, who now works as a scout at Dynamo but is with his national team for their World Cup campaign, added: “This victory is for Dinamo and Ukraine,”” reported ESPN.
FIFA released a statement on the matter to ESPN: “FIFA is processing the different reports of the said match as well as potential evidence concerning the matter referred to. Until we have evaluated all information available, we cannot comment further.”
The controversy seems to have whipped up anti-Croatian sentiment in Moscow where shouts could be heard during the night against Croatia.
Domagoj later released a statement as well: “I respect the Russian nation. This was just a joke for my Ukrainian friends. Football is outside politics. I didn’t mean anything bad.”
Vida told the Russian newspaper Sport Express he meant the video to be a personal message. “There’s no politics in football. It’s a joke for my friends from Dynamo Kiev,” he was quoted as saying. “I love Russians and I love Ukrainians,” reported Associated Press.
On Sunday, Andrey Pavelko, president of the Ukrainian Football Federation, told Sport Express: “All Ukrainian patriots felt a bit Croatian last night,” wrote ESPN.
Croatia now faces England in the World Cup semi-finals.