Croatian Player Banned From World Cup For Pro-Nazi Chant

Last month, defender Josip Šimunić celebrated Croatia's World Cup qualification by leading fans in a call-and-response chant made famous by the nation's fascist puppet regime that ruled during World War II. FIFA has now banned him for 10 matches, which will extend through the World Cup.

FIFA's statement:

"The committee took note that the player, together with the crowd, shouted a Croatian salute that was used during World War II by the fascist 'Ustase' movement. As a consequence, the committee agreed that this salute was discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons concerning, inter alia, race, religion or origin, in a clear breach of article 58 par. 1a) of the FIFA disciplinary code.

"After taking into account all of the circumstances of the case, and particularly given the gravity of the incident, the committee decided to suspend the player for 10 official matches."


Šimunić was also fined the equivalent of nearly $34,000, and at age 35, this could spell the end of his international career. Below our original story on Šimunić.

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 saluteÔÇö"Za dom spremni"ÔÇödates back to the 19th century, giving ┼áimuni─ç plausible deniability. But it only became famous, and notorious, during the Second World War as a symbol of the Usta┼íe, 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