Croatia qualified for a World Cup berth Tuesday, but its national pride was diminished by what apparently were pro-Nazi chants by defender Joe Simunic and fans in Zagreb.
After Croatia’s 2-0 victory over Iceland, Simunic is shown on video taking a mirophone to the field and shouting, “For the homeland,” to which fans replied, “Ready!”
That, according to the Associated Press, was a war call used by Ustashas, the pro-Nazi regime during World War II when thousands of Serbs, Jews and others died in concentration camps. The chant and Nazi salute have been used by fans in Croatia before and the Croatian Football Association has been punished by FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, and UEFA, soccer’s European governing body. Croatia was fined $38,000 two weeks ago for salutes and other gestures in a match last month.
“Some people have to learn some history. I’m not afraid,” Simunic, who was born in Australia, said. “I did nothing wrong. I’m supporting my Croatia, my homeland. If someone has something against it, that’s their problem.”
FIFA said Wednesday it was considering disciplinary action and Simunic could be punished with a suspension that would keep him out of World Cup matches.