Croatia defender Vida apologises on Ukraine comments

KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV  GettyImages

According to reports in the Russian media, citing photographs from the match, the fans carried in a modified version of the red, white and blue tricolor of Croatia, adopted by the nationalist radical organization Ustashe, popular in the country from the 1920s to the 1940s, which had fought alongside Nazi Germany in World War II.

The organizers of the World Cup have admitted Croatian supporters were warned over an incendiary banner, brought in by the supporters to the team's opening game on June 16.

Domagoj Vida was booed by Russian fans for a complimentary remark regarding Ukraine. I'm sorry, this is life. "You have to learn from your mistakes", he added after their 2-1 extra-time win.

Relations between Russia and Ukraine since Russia's annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and its support of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday condemned the video as "not clever".

A half an hour into Wednesday's match, spectators in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium began jeering Vida every time he touched the ball.

FIFA, world football's governing body, issued Vida a warning for not adhering to tournament rules about political neutrality. Vukojević was sacked from his role with the national team.

In an earlier statement released by the Croatian Football Federation, Vida, 29, said his comments were not meant to be political and were related to his former career with Dynamo Kiev. "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", he said.

During the group stages of the World Cup, Switzerland's Granit Xhaka, Xherdan Shaqiri and Stephan Lichtsteiner were fined by Federation Internationale de Football Association for breaking these very rules as political symbols were shown through the use of hand gestures during celebrations of their 2-1 win over Serbia.

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