Croatia forward Nikola Kalinic has not accepted a runners-up medal after his country’s 4-2 World Cup final defeat to France because he was sent home early in the competition, reports in the Croatian media said.
Kalinic, dismissed from the squad following the 2-0 victory over Nigeria in their opening match, reportedly said: “Thank you, but I did not play in Russia.”
Coach Zlatko Dalic sent the AC Milan forward home when, warming up to be a second-half substitute, he told him he was not able to play because of a back problem.
Dalic said at the time that that Kalinic had been asked to come on in the 85th minute but refused, citing a back injury, adding that he had also declined to come on in a friendly against Brazil in England before the tournament and had missed a training session.
Kalinic could not be replaced on the squad, meaning Croatia played the rest of the tournament with 22 players.