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Croatia official allowed to watch semis despite conviction


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MOSCOW (AP) — FIFA is letting a top Croatian soccer official watch the team's World Cup semifinal against England from a VIP section on Wednesday despite him being convicted last month in a corruption case linked to the transfer of Luka Modric.

When Croatia beat Russia in the quarterfinals on Saturday, the soccer federation's CEO-like director general sat in the same row of seats as state President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Damir Vrbanovic has retained his position since being sentenced by a court in Croatia in June to a three-year jail term — though Article 68 of FIFA's disciplinary code bars officials "convicted of a criminal offense in the past five years."

However, FIFA has decided that the sentence is not final because the former Dinamo Zagreb director general is appealing to a higher court

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