Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Croatian Player And Fans Celebrate World Cup Berth With Pro-Nazi Chant

This is video of Australian-born Croatia defender Joe Šimunić leading fans in a chant after Croatia beat Iceland to qualify for the world cup. "For the homeland," Šimunić calls, and the crowd responds, "Ready!" But it's more complicated than that.


The salute—"Za dom spremni"—dates back to the 19th century, giving Šimunić plausible deniability. But it only became famous, and notorious, during the Second World War as a symbol of the Ustaše, a fascist and ultranationalist group that ruled Croatia as a Nazi puppet state and advocated and undertook genocide against Serbs, Jews, and Romani.

Think of it as the equivalent of "Sieg Heil". The Croatian Constitution does, banning it in certain instances. So do FIFA and UEFA, who have previously fined the Croatian Football Federation for the chant's use by fans, often accompanied by the Nazi salute. (As in many Eastern and Southeastern European countries, soccer and ultranationalism have a cozy, complicated relationship.)

Šimunić defended the chant as pure patriotism:

"Some people have to learn some history. I'm not afraid. I did nothing wrong. I'm supporting my Croatia, my homeland. If someone has something against it, that's their problem."

But Zeljko Jovanovic, the Croatian Minister of Sport and Education, said Šimunić is the one who needs to read his textbooks:

"Šimunić, you need a lesson in history. If you want I will personally help you get a good history teacher and learn what "Za dom spremni" means."


Damnit, we could have had adorable little Iceland in the World Cup instead. Now we just get fascism.

H/t Emir