MOSCOW, July 9. /TASS/. Croatian footballer Domagoj Vida and national team’s coaching staff assistant Ognjen Vukojevic expressed their apologies for statements made after the victory over Russia in the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals match in Sochi on July 7, the Croatian Football Federation (CFF) announced on Monday.
During the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, the hosting national football team managed to make it to the quarterfinals stage, where Croatia edged them out on a 4-2 penalty shootout to close Saturday’s spectacular match in Sochi.
In a video footage, which was recorded after the match in the locker rooms of the Croatian team and later circulated on social networks, Vida said "Glory to Ukraine," while Vukojevic added that he dedicated that victory over Russia to people in Ukraine.
"The Croatian Football Federation would like to emphasize that the aforementioned messages were merely a response to numerous messages of support received from Ukraine during the 2018 FIFA World Cup, considering the deep impact Vida and Vukojevic had in Ukraine when playing for powerhouse Dynamo Kiev," the CFF said in a statement.
Vida played for Dynamo Kiev FC between 2013 and 2018, while Vukojevic played for the same Ukrainian football club in 2008-2015.
"Nonetheless, Croatian Football Federation has pointed out to both Vida and Vukojevic, as well as all other internationals, to refrain from any messages that could be politically interpreted in the future," the statement added.
The 29-year-old defender of the Croatian national team said in his statement that he had "no political message" in his statement.
"I regret that some media representatives have interpreted our communication in such a manner," Vida was quoted as saying by the CFF. "It was definitely no political message, but a simple thank you for all the support from Ukraine, where Vukojevic and I spent a number of years."
"I am happy to speak Russian language, I enjoy Russian hospitality at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and I sincerely hope that this message will not be understood as anything else but an expression of gratitude to our friends in Ukraine for their support - not in the match against Russia, but during the entire World Cup," Vida said.
Russia is staging its first-ever FIFA World Cup, which kicked off in Moscow with a remarkable opening show at Luzhniki Stadium on the evening of June 14.
The country selected 11 host cities to be the venues for the matches of the 2018 World Cup and they are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi, Kazan, Saransk, Kaliningrad, Volgograd, Rostov-on-Don, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Samara.