FIFA considers action against Croatian player, fans after apparent pro-Nazi chants
FIFA said Wednesday that it’s considering disciplinary measures against Croatia defender Joe Simunic and fans of the team after they were seen celebrating with apparent pro-Nazi chants following Tuesday’s World Cup qualification.
According to a report Wednesday from the Associated Press, Simunic took a microphone to the field following Croatia’s 2-0 win over Iceland on Tuesday and shouted to the fans, “For the homeland!” to which those in the stands responded, “Ready.”
Without context, the exchange may seem innocuous. But as the report points out, “that was the war call used by Ustashas, the Croatian pro-Nazi puppet regime that ruled the state during World War II when tens of thousands Jews, Serbs and others perished in concentration camps.”
The 35-year-old Australian-born Simunic defended his actions, saying it’s not his problem if others take issue with his words:
“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.”
Allegations of pro-Nazi gestures aren’t new to the team and its fans. Two weeks ago, Croatia’s team was fined $38,000 by FIFA for “incidents,” according to the report, including a number of fans making supposed Hitler-esque “salute gestures” during a 2-1 loss to Belgium in October in Croatia’s capital of Zagreb.
FIFA said it’s still in the information-gathering stage of the investigation:
“We are in the process of analyzing the different match officials’ reports and gathering information.”
A suspension to Simunic would potentially mean sitting out matches in Brazil at the World Cup.
Footage of the post-game exchange between Simunic and fans can be seen below: