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09th Jul 2018

Croatia defender warned by FIFA ahead of England clash after making controversial celebration

FIFA take a hard stance against politically provocative symbols

Reuben Pinder

FIFA are tough on political statements

Croatia defender Domagoj Vida – yes, that guy with the bad hair – has been warned by FIFA for making a politically charged video after he helped Croatia knock Russia out of the World Cup.

Vida scored a header to give Croatia the lead in extra time, only for it to be cancelled out by Mario Fernandes’ equaliser five minutes later, meaning the game had to be decided on penalties.

Croatia proceeded to the semi-finals, where they will meet England, but were at risk of losing a key defender in Vida after a video of him saying that the victory was for Ukraine.

The video shows Vida saying “glory to Ukraine” next to his former Croatian team-mate Ognjen Vukojevic, who adds “this win is for Dynamo and Ukraine … go Croatia.”

It wasn’t clear whether the pair intended for the video to be published publicly or whether it was just meant to sent to friends privately.

FIFA said in a statement: “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.”

Vida told Russian paper that it was only ever supposed to be shared privately, saying:

“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.”

FIFA take a tough stance towards political statements in football, and more often than not issue fines and bans to players who are guilty of making provocative gestures.

Three Swiss players were fined for making pro-Albania symbols during their goal celebrations against Serbia earlier on in this World Cup.