KIEV: Ukraine’s football federation said Tuesday it had offered a job to former Croatia international Ognjen Vukojevic and offered to pay his fine over a pro-Ukraine clip he posted during the World Cup.
The Croatian football association removed him as an assistant in its delegation at the tournament in Russia and FIFA fined Vukojevic $15,000 over an Instagram video featuring him and Croatia defender Domagoj Vida, who shouted “Glory to Ukraine!”
Vida is expected to be part of Croatia’s team to face England in the World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.
Vida used to play for Dynamo Kiev and Vukojevic also played for the Ukrainian club and now works for them as a scout.
FIFA said Tuesday it was “looking into” another video of Vida apparently making political statements, including “Glory to Ukraine”.
The phrase was a slogan of the former Soviet republic’s pro-EU revolution that toppled a Russian-backed president in 2014.
It was followed by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula and a Kremlin-backed separatist war in eastern Ukraine that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.
The moves from the football associations sparked Ukrainian anger towards FIFA as well as a wave of support for both representatives of the Croatian team.
“We decided to compensate Vukojevic from our personal funds the fine that he will have to pay,” Ukraine’s football federation chief Andriy Pavelko wrote on Facebook.
“In addition, we are ready to consider the options for cooperation of FFU with such a high-class specialist,” Pavelko said, in a post that included a picture of himself in a Croatia jersey.
On Sunday, Ukraine’s football governing body also sent a letter to FIFA chief Gianni Infantino saying that “Glory to Ukraine!… is not a discriminatory or far-right sign or symbol”.
It “should not be interpreted as an act of aggression or provocation,” the body said.
Meanwhile 160,000 angry internet users, mainly Ukrainians, gave the FIFA official Facebook page a one-star review and commented “Glory to Ukraine!” or “Shame to FIFA!”
In the video, posted after the quarter-final win over host nation Russia, Vukojevic also said: “This victory is for Dynamo (Kiev) and for Ukraine! Croatia onwards!”
Vida used to play for Dynamo Kiev and Vukojevic also played for the Ukrainian club and now works for them as a scout. —AFP