Pro-Nazi chanting lands him a 10 match suspension
Canberra-born Dinamo Zagreb defender Josip Simunic has been banned by FIFA for 10 matches following pro-Nazi chanting during a 19 November match against Iceland, which saw the Croatian team win 2-0 to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The ban will begin from the first day of the World Cup in Brazil, and will also bar Simunic from being present at any of his country’s matches during the competition.
The offending chant was used by the Ustase regime of Croatia during World War Two who, while allied to Nazi Germany, put to death hundreds of thousands of Yugoslavian citizens, predominantly Serbs. During the match, Simunic shouted to the audience “za dom” four times, which means “for the homeland” in Croatian, and the crowd responded with “spremni” (ready).
The responding FIFA statement label Simunic’s chant “discriminatory”, also saying: “Given the gravity of the incident, the committee decided to suspend the player for 10 official matches.”
FIFA has also fined Simunic 30,000 Swiss francs ($38,000) for the offensive speech.
Executive President of Croatia’s Football Federation (HNS), Damir Vrbanovic, wrote in a statement that the organisation was “shocked” at the decision, calling it a “draconian sanction”. He made it clear that the HNS would support a likely appeal by Simunic.
Simunic has claimed that it was the “love of my people and homeland” that caused him to repeat the chant.
“If anyone understood my cries differently, or negatively, I hereby want to deny they contained any political context,” he said.