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09th Jul 2018

Croatia’s Danijel Subasic willing to risk stupid Fifa fine against England

The goalkeeper has a touching reason for wearing a t-shirt under his match jersey

Patrick McCarry

We can see why Fifa would go after players for expressing political sentiments while competing at the World Cup but lay off the socks and tributes.

While football fans have had to endure the comedic side-show of Fifa president Gianni Infantino gurning and throwing his arms up in mock surprise – sitting between dignitaries from participating nations – at the World Cup, tributes to deceased friends are not allowed.

That was the stance Fifa set out before the tournament and the one they are holding firm over.

It was why Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was cautioned after he displayed a t-shirt honouring the memory of his friend and former teammate Hrvoje Custic.

Custic died in 2008 after falling into a concrete wall that was at the side of a pitch during a game. He was aged only 24. Subasic, who is now 33, has been paying tribute to his late friend ever since and often wears a t-shirt or vest bearing his name, picture and age on under his goalkeeper’s jersey.

Following Croatia’s second round shootout win over Denmark, during which he saved three penalties, Subasic once again revealed a t-shirt bearing Custic’s image.

That did not go down well with the disciplinary heads over at Fifa and the goalkeeper was issued with a warning. A Fifa statement last Thursday read:

“A warning has been issued for such violation as well as for the infringement of the Fifa Equipment Regulations due to the display of a personal message by the player Danijel Subasic after the end of the said match.”

The ‘keeper was asked about Custic and his ongoing tributes at an emotional press conference, ahead of Croatia’s quarter final win over Russia, and had to stop several times as he shared his story.

Teammate Domagoj Vida was on hand to help Subasic through the interview.

Subasic was not deterred by the Fifa warning and, again, wore a t-shirt with Custic’s picture on it during the last eight win over hosts Russia. He was injured near the end of full-time but played through the pain and saved another shootout penalty.

Ahead of the semi-final date with England, Subasic told Sata 24 [a Croatian news outlet] that he would once again be wearing something under his jersey in memory of his friend. After landing in Moscow, he said:

“We are not going to change our routines or traditions now. I have worn it for a long time and I’ll wear it [again]. Nobody has said anything about it before. Fifa has banned players showing private messages from beneath their jerseys and I will respect that.”

Subasic did not display the t-shirt during the Russia match but he did reveal it after the final whistle.

“Whatever it was, it was a joke for our team manager Ivo Olivari. I said to her, ‘Here, you see I can take off the jersey despite the ban’. And she, as caring as she was, immediately jumped on me.”

It will be interesting to see if Subasic flouts the Fifa rule again on Wednesday.