Croatia on Monday sacked Ognjen Vukojevic, one of their assistant coaches at the ongoing World Cup in Russia.
According to a report, the move was made to avoid a major diplomatic difficulty with Russia. Vukojevic was sacked after he was identified as the one who posted a pro-Ukraine video, which has enraged the host nation. Croatia has reportedly apologized over the incident.
Domagoj Vida, a defender, in the purported video dedicated their quarter-finals victory at the tournament over Russia to Ukraine, shouting “Glory to Ukraine”, before the assistant coach, who played for Ukrainian club, Dynamo Kyiv added: “This victory is for Dynamo and Ukraine.”
The phrases were commonly used by anti-Russian politicians in Ukraine.
When Mario Mandzukic was asked on Monday if Vida regretted his support for Ukraine, a Croatian Football Federation official was said to have intervened, saying the Juventus’ striker would not be answering.
“There is no reason for the player to comment. We apologize if anyone reconstructed what was said as a message of support for the Ukraine. We would not want to make a story out of that,” the official was quoted as saying.
The video, which was first posted to Facebook and has appeared on YouTube, is said to be generating anger among Russians, who now sing anti-Croatian songs in public spaces in Moscow. According to reports, some Croatian fans now feel unsafe in Russia.