MOSCOW, July 12. /TASS/. The Russian Foreign Ministry received numerous messages from the people of Croatia expressing apologies for remarks made by their national team’s defender Damagoj Vida last week at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, ministry’s spokesperson Maria Zakharova said on Thursday.
On Monday, the world’s governing football body, FIFA, imposed a fine of 15,000 Swiss francs on Croatian team’s coaching staff assistant Ognjen Vukojevic for his conduct after the victory over Russia.
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 Vukojevic adds that he dedicates that victory over Russia to the people of Ukraine.
"Many Croatian people made public statements sending us apologies and saying it was inappropriate raising a politically-tinged football issue," Zakharova told journalists. "There is a game of football and there is politics - these are different things."
"We have registered the position of FIFA, which conducted its own investigation, and heard everything what was said on behalf of the Croatian side," Zakharova said.
Croatian national team’s 29-year-old defender Vida already said in a statement on Monday that he had "no political message" in his statement.
Vida played for Dynamo Kiev FC between 2013 and 2018, while Vukojevic played for them in 2008-2015.
The Croatian team is now set to face off the French squad in the final match of the football championship in Russia at the Luzhniki Stadium on July 15 at 6:00 p.m. local time (15:00 GMT).
The French national football team defeated Belgium 1-0 in the semifinal match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, played on Tuesday night in Russia’s Saint Petersburg, to become the first team to vie for the much-coveted FIFA World Cup Trophy this year.
The match for the bronze of the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be played in St. Petersburg on July 14 between the national football teams of Belgium and England. The game kicks off at 5:00 p.m. local time (14:00 GMT).