Croatia defender Domagoj Vida has narrowly avoided a ban from his country’s World Cup semi-final against England after posting a nine-second video with strong political connotations on social media.
The centre-back, who put his side 2-1 ahead before Russia equalised to take the game to penalties, posted a video of himself dedicating Croatia’s victory to the country of Ukraine.
“Glory to Ukraine! This victory is for Dynamo and for Ukraine,” he chanted in the video, alongside Dynamo Kiev scout and former Croatia international Ognjen Vukojevic.
The video has been deemed by many as deeply insensitive, due to the historic political tensions between the nations of Russia and Ukraine, but the Sun report that Vida will face no action from FIFA.
According to a video posted on Twitter by Russian football expert Artur Petrosyan, there were strong anti-Croatian chants into the night in the city of Moscow, something when he believes was fuelled by the video that Vida posted.
Having realised the huge negative reaction his video received, Vida has spoken to Sports.ru in a bid to play down the situation and justify his reasons for the words he used.
“This victory is for Croatia. No politics. It’s a joke. I’ve got friends there [in Ukraine] since Dynamo Kyiv, I didn’t mean anything else. I like Russian people. It was just a joke.”
FIFA rules are very strict against footballers issuing political messages, but it remains to be seen what punishment – if any – Vida will be handed for his poor choice of words.
There were suggestions earlier in the tournament that Switzerland duo Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri could face punishment for their controversial celebrations against Serbia, but the pair have so far escaped punishment for their actions.
Vida will be pleased that he has been just as lucky, as his side prepare to take on England in the semi-finals on Wednesday. The winner will book their place in the World Cup final against either Belgium or France.