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.”