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Kremlin stays mum on Croatian football squad members’ remarks after quarterfinal win

July 10, 2018, 15:33 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Kremlin refused to comment on the recent remarks by a Croatian footballer and a staff member that sparked an uproar after the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals win over Russia

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Croatian football team members

Croatian football team members

© Sergei Fadeichev/TASS

MOSCOW, July 10. /TASS/. Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov refused to comment on the recent remarks by a Croatian footballer and a staff member that sparked an uproar after the 2018 FIFA World Cup quarterfinals win over Russia on Saturday, saying that politics should be not be mixed with football.

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 in a 4-2 penalty shootout to close Saturday’s spectacular match in Sochi.

In a video clip, which was recorded after the match in the Croatian team’s locker room and later circulated on social networks, Croatia’s defender Domagoj Vida yells "Glory to Ukraine," while team’s coaching staff assistant Ognjen Vukojevic added that he dedicated that victory over Russia to the people of Ukraine.

"The most important (thing) is that it was an honest match and we are talking about football and not politics here," Peskov told journalists.

"The Russian national team lost to the Croatian national squad," he said. "We congratulate our national team on a fantastic game and the Croatian national team as well since they advanced further (in the World Cup)."

Vida played for Dynamo Kiev FC between 2013 and 2018, while Vukojevic played for them in 2008-2015.

Following the circulation of the video footage of Vida’s and Vukojevic’s remarks, the Croatian Football Federation (CFF) announced on Monday that "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."

"Nonetheless, the 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 CFF also decided to issue a warning to Vida against such behavior in the future and also stripped Vukojevic of his accreditation for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The world’s governing football body, FIFA, also imposed a financial penalty against Croatia’s Vukojevic.

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.

After edging hosts Russia on a 4-3 penalty shootout win on Saturday night at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium, the Croatian national squad is now gearing up to take on Team England in the semifinals.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup semifinal match between the Croatian footballers and the ‘Three Lions’ (Team England) is scheduled to be played on Wednesday night at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

In another semifinal match of this World Cup, the French team is scheduled to take on the Belgian squad later on Tuesday in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg. The match kicks off at 9:00 p.m. local time (18:00 GMT).

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