Sacked Vukojevic gets job offer from Ukraine

KIEV • The Football Federation of Ukraine (FFU) said yesterday it had offered a job to former Croatia international Ognjen Vukojevic and offered to pay his fine over a pro-Ukraine clip he posted during the World Cup.

The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) removed him as an assistant in its delegation at the tournament in Russia and Fifa fined Vukojevic US$15,000 (S$20,300) over an Instagram video featuring him and Croatia defender Domagoj Vida, who shouted "Glory to Ukraine!"

Vida is expected to be part of Croatia's team to face England in the World Cup semi-final today. He used to play for Dynamo Kiev and Vukojevic also played for the Ukrainian club and now works for them as a scout.

Fifa said on Tuesday it was "looking into" another video of Vida apparently making political statements, including "Glory to Ukraine".

The first clip was picked up by Russian state media and drew condemnation from some officials.

"Glory to Ukraine!" was a slogan of the former Soviet republic's pro-EU revolution that toppled a Russian-backed president in 2014.

It was followed by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula and a Kremlin-backed separatist war in eastern Ukraine that has claimed more than 10,000 lives.

The moves from the football associations sparked Ukrainian anger towards Fifa as well as a wave of support for both representatives of the Croatian team.

"We decided to compensate Vukojevic from our personal funds the fine that he will have to pay," FFU chief Andriy Pavelko wrote in a Facebook post that included a picture of himself in a Croatia jersey.

"In addition, we are ready to consider the options for cooperation of FFU with such a high-class specialist."

HNS had revoked Vukojevic's accreditation at the World Cup and relieved him of his duties as an observer for the Croatia squad.

On Sunday, Ukraine's football governing body also sent a letter to Fifa chief Gianni Infantino saying that "Glory to Ukraine!... is not a discriminatory or far-right sign or symbol".

It "should not be interpreted as an act of aggression or provocation," the body said.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 11, 2018, with the headline 'Sacked Vukojevic gets job offer from Ukraine'. Print Edition | Subscribe