Croatia defender Domagoj Vida has apologised after his team's World Cup semi-final victory over England on Wednesday for speaking out in support of Russia's neighbor and adversary Ukraine.
Vida, also a former Dynamo Kiev player, said in a statement following the posting of the video: "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'm sorry. That's life".
Russia's relations with Ukraine have been fraught since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014 and backed pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The booing and whistles rang out each time Vida touched the ball in the semifinal against England, starting about 30 minutes into the first half. There were significant numbers of Russians in the stadium.
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Ognjen Vukojevic, a coaching assistant and former Croatia worldwide, posted a video on social media in which he and defender Domagoj Vida dedicated the win to Ukraine.
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.
The Croatian national team has a history of association with far-right nationalist movements, as it became a symbol of the country's independence following the break-up of Yugoslavia.
"Our intention was not to offend anyone..."
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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