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Alleged Pro-Nazi chants get Croatian defender banned for World Cup

Dec 16, 2013, 12:53 PM EDT

Josip Simunic AP

Josip Simunic’s alleged pro-Nazi chants have cost him big time, as FIFA laid a 10-game ban on the Croatia defender that will cost him the 2014 World Cup.

After Croatia had defeated Iceland 2-0 to seal their fate as a member of the 2014 World Cup, Simunic grabbed a microphone and led the home crowd in a chant.

He said loudly “za dom” — translated from Croatian as “for the homeland” — four times, gaining an immediate response from fans, who chanted “spremni”, meaning “ready”.

The chant earned him a fine of approximately $4400 in Zagreb, but that came before FIFA began its investigation. Croatia was controlled by the pro-Nazi Utashas regime during the second World War and the “Za dom” chants are considered incendiary. Furthermore, FIFA had previously warned and fined Croatia for its fans’ racist behavior.

The gesture was condemned by Croatia football federation chief Davor Suker as inappropriate last month. FIFA suspended Simunic, fined him 20,000 pounds and released the following statement to the BBC this afternoon:

“The salute was discriminatory and offended the dignity of a group of persons.”

The Dinamo Zagreb captain, Simunic had denied any political nature in the chants.

“The thought that anyone could associate me with any form of hatred or violence terrifies me,” he said in a statement on Dinamo’s official website.

“If anyone understood my cries differently, or negatively, I hereby want to deny they contained any political context. They were guided exclusively by my love for my people and homeland, not hatred and destruction.”

  1. nogoodusernames - Dec 16, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    This is actually a verdict I’m not sure about. I haven’t followed it closely, so I don’t know if the player has other ties to neo-Nazi groups or anything, but on the face of it, saying “for the homeland” is not nearly as obviously pro-Nazi as something like “heil Hitler”, and I heard something that the slogan well pre-dates WW2, going back hundreds of years. I don’t know anything about Croatian society, so I don’t know if his statement is something that is still known to all as being a neo-Nazi salute, or if it’s something that older generations associated with that Nazi group but younger people might not be aware of. If it’s the latter, that he truly didn’t know how how some perceive the phrase, then I would feel badly; a young person (I don’t know how old he is) incorrectly getting labeled as a Nazi supporter because he didn’t know the meaning of what he said, would be sad, though if it’s the former, and there’s no way a Croatian of any age could not be aware of the association, then I have no problem with the suspension.

  2. geojock - Dec 16, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    I am glad FIFA is making a stand on the issues and actually giving a punishment with some teeth. However, it is impossible for me to judge the context of a statement so I can’t really say if I agree with this particular case. That is the trouble with these gray area of ‘offensiveness’. I think we will be seeing more and more of this and inevitability there will be those who are punished who may be innocent or perhaps just naïve. I guess it is for the greater good though.

  3. reformed2012 - Dec 16, 2013 at 4:45 PM

    I am not white but time to ban this political correctness BS. The Zionist is having way too much power in the world, bringing all sorts of tyranny from communism to Federal Reserve. Patriotism is not Nazism. Say NO to the new world order and one world government.

  4. phillyphannnn83 - Dec 17, 2013 at 12:52 AM

    Oh please. Don’t be so naive to believe he didn’t know what the chant means. He knew EXACTLY what he was saying and so did the crowd. Croatians are not shy about their racism. Its disgusting.

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