Simunic invokes Croatia’s Nazi past

Croatia’s World Cup qualification celebrations have been overshadowed by apparent pro-Nazi chants by fans and defender Joe Simunic.

Croatia qualified for the World Cup with a 2-0 win over Iceland on Tuesday.

Video footage (see below) shows Simunic holding a microphone and shouting to the fans: “For the homeland!” The fans respond: “Ready!”

That was the war call used by Ustashas, the Croatian pro-Nazi regime that ruled the state during World War II.

The Australian-born Simunic, who faces disciplinary action by FIFA, was unapologetic when quizzed about his actions.

“Some people have to learn some history. I’m not afraid,” the 35-year-old defender said. “I did nothing wrong. I’m supporting my Croatia, my homeland. If someone has something against it, that’s their problem.”

The same chant coupled with the Nazi salute has often been used by Croatian fans in the past. FIFA and UEFA have punished the Croatian Football Association in the past as a result of the behaviour of some fans.

Two weeks ago, FIFA fined Croatia 35,000 Swiss francs for incidents including fans making salute gestures during its previous match in Zagreb, a 2-1 loss to Belgium on October 11.

FIFA said it was considering disciplinary action.

“We are in the process of analyzing the different match officials’ reports and gathering information,” FIFA said in a statement.

Simunic faces a possible suspension which could apply to matches in Brazil at the World Cup.