Listen up, kids. Resurrecting old pro-Nazi chants is never a good idea. Take Croatian soccer player Josip Simunic, for example. He resurrected an World War II-era chant last November after beating Iceland in a World Cup qualifying round and now he won’t be going to the World Cup. The Court of Arbitration and Sport upheld a FIFA decision to impose a 10-match ban on Simunic, thus practically ending his international career. This is what happened.
“U boj, u boj!” means “To the battle!” in Croatian. “Za dom” translates to “For the homeland,” and “Spremni,” which the crowd enthusiastically responded with, means “Ready.” (Side bar: Sadly, FIFA can’t ban the idiots in the crowd who responded.) This was the rallying cry of the World War II Ustasha regime, which was backed by the Nazis and responsible for the sending hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, opposition-party Croatians, Roma and more to concentration camps.
“The expression used by Simunic was a clear and unequivocal reference to the call used by the [Ustasha],” said the CAS, adding:
“The CAS confirmed the sanction imposed by FIFA against the player, who remains suspended for ten official matches, the first of which has to be served during the final competition of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.”
Simunic is banned from entering the confines of the stadiums for those 10 matches and also must pay a $35,000 fine, said the statement.
FIFA responded, noting that they “welcomed” the CAS decision. The organization added in a statement:
“With this decision, FIFA considers that CAS gives a clear and strong support to FIFA’s efforts in stamping out racism in [soccer].”
Meanwhile, Simunic’s lawyer Davor Prtenjaca spoke out against the CAS ruling. He was quoted in the Montreal Gazette:
“This was not the victory of justice, but the power of a big [soccer] association. FIFA had its ban based on political, not legal aspects.”
Well, no. According to FIFA, the organization’s “firm zero-tolerance stance against any form of discrimination and racism is enshrined in its Statutes in article 3.” Also, the stance is “further developed, among other Regulations, in the FIFA Disciplinary Code.” Oh, and let’s not forget, “The Resolution on the Fight Against Racism and Discrimination, which was approved at the FIFA Congress in May 2013, advocates the need for strict punishments to send out a strong message that discrimination has no place in the game.” Plus, fascism — it’s never okay!