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UEFA fires two football officials in connection with criminal cases

EN YENEVA (AP) – A Croatian football official sentenced to prison for corruption over Luka Modric’s transfer has been fired from the European Championship monitoring committee, UEFA said on Friday.

Damir Vrbanovic lost his appeal against his three-year sentence in a Croatian Supreme Court ruling last week.

Vrbanovic, Dinamo’s Dinamo նախկին Former Executive Director of the Croatian Football Federation, was reappointed by UEFA in 2019 to the competition committee of his national teams, pending an appeal against last year’s verdict.

UEFA also removed former Serbian football president Slavisa Kozeka from its 55-member European federation oversight committee.

Kozeka resigned as head of Serbian football on Monday after joining a group of fans allegedly linked to organized crime.

“They are no longer members of their respective UEFA standing committees,” the European Football Association said on Friday about Vrbanovich-Kozeka.

Croatia’s Dinamo Zagreb coach Zo Oran Mamic, who resigned two days ago after his side beat Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League quarter-finals last week, was acquitted.

The case involved the theft of millions of dollars from the transfer of Dinamo players abroad, including Modric to Tottenham Hotspur in 2008 and Dejan Lovren to Lyon in 2010. Both players testified in court in 2018, they were accused of false betrayal.

The robbery trial in Croatia was decided a week before the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Football Federation Vice President Dravo Mamic fled to Bosnia-Herzegovina before being sentenced to six years in prison.

Mamic was a close ally of the president of the federation Davor Shuker, the former striker of “Dinamo” and “Real”, who has been a member of the UEFA Executive Committee since 2015.

Despite the confusion, Modric led Lovren to the Croatian national team, defending the World Cup final, losing 4-2 to France. Modric has been named FIFA World Player of the Year 2018.

Vrbanoviեց made headlines for the tournament when, as the main convict of the Croatian football body, he sat in the VIP section in the quarter-final match against Russia. Among the seats were then-Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and then-Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.

FIFA later said that there was no restriction on Vrbanovich, as his sentence was not final, while he was appealing.

A former Dynamo executive, Vrbanovic was a founding member of the European Club Association in 2008.

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