Croatian footballer Domagoj Vida has already been reprimanded by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) for participating in a video made shortly after his team’s victory over Russia in the World Cup in which he chanted a deeply offensive slogan.
During the original video, Vida shouted the slogan “Slava Ukrayini” which was popularised by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) which collaborated with Hitler’s fascist regime during the Great Patriotic War (Second World War). Since the 2014 fascist coup against the last legitimately elected Ukrainian government, the phrase’s popularity continues to grow among neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists who praise the crimes against humanity that the Kiev regime’s troops commit against the civilians of Donbass.
While Vida later stated that he has friends throughout the world and that the video was a “joke”, he has now emerged in a new video where he repeats the far-right provocation while combining his original “Slava Ukrayini” remark with the phrase “Burn, Belgrade” – a reference to the Serbian capital.
These phrases when combined represent clearly hateful language that conjures the horrors of the 1940s when the fascist puppet State of Croatia and Hitler collaborationists in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army waged war against the anti-fascist forces who ultimately prevailed on the 9th of May, 1945 . If FIFA is serious about combating racism in football, further action must be taken against Domagoj Vida and assistant coach Ivica Olic who appeared in the most recent inflammatory video.
In addition to being fined and suspended for the match Croatia play against England on the 11th of July, while still in Russia, Vida and his teammates should visit the many monuments to the Red Army’s historic victory over fascism in order to educate themselves about the struggles that Russian and all Soviet people went through during a time when Croatia itself operated as a puppet state of the Hitler regime before being liberated by Tito’s Soviet allied partisans.
Vida’s provocation is all the more surreal given that prior to the match, Croatian players including Vida were filmed in front of a large banner upon which were written the words “say no to racism”. Sadly, hours later, Vida said yes to racism by shouting a hateful slogan that is typically directed against Russians while it is also directed with scorn against socialists, Jews, Roma and other minorities in present day Ukrainian territory.
As the World Cup has already been marred by provocations from Albanian ultra-nationalists playing for Switzerland, FIFA must prove that it is willing to crack down on racism with the same vigour as host nation Russia continues to do.