Croatia sack coach ahead of World Cup semi-final with England

Earlier, had reported how Croatia president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic rushed into the dressing room to celebrate with the players after their penalty win over Russian Federation.

In the video, posted on Facebook by Ukrainian journalist Andrey Shakhov, Vida said: "Glory to Ukraine".

While the Reds improved defensively in the second half of the 2017/18 season, the questions that have been asked about their defensive frailty in the past could tempt Jurgen Klopp to move for another defender such as Vida this summer.

Russian Federation 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. Later on Saturday night, anti-Croatian chants were heard in the centre of Moscow.

Vida, who scored in the match against Russia - which ended 2-2 after extra time - and netted in the resulting penalty shootout, later said of his comment in quotes reported by Russian outlet Championat: "I respect the Russian nation".

Both Vida and Vukojevic previously played for Ukrainian Premier League club Dynamo Kiev.

"My statements were truly not meant to have any political connotations, and my only intention was to thank my friends in Ukraine for their support, and to thank my club, Dynamo Kiev, for permitting me to participate at the World Cup".

"There's no politics in football".

"I support the decision of the Croatian Football Federation, it's good that they recognised and reacted to this ugly situation, which doesn't do any credit to Croatian players". 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 don't want to be a burden to our team ahead of the extremely important semifinal match of the World Cup, at the moment when the most needed thing for the national team is peace, " Vukojevic told Croatian state broadcaster HRT.

The Croatian FA had issued a press statement on Sunday attempting to clarify the incident and calling on players to avoid sending messages that could be deemed to be politically provocative.

Ognjen Vukojevic playing for Croatia at Euro 2012.

Croatia play England in the semifinals in Moscow on Wednesday.

Federation Internationale de Football Association can fine or suspend players for political gestures at the World Cup. "Throughout my career, I have had teammates from many countries and I respect them all, and just as I have many friends in Ukraine, I have a number of them in Russian Federation - and I am proud of all of them", the defender said.

  • Steve Townsend