LAUSANNE: Croatia’s Australian-born defender Josip Simunic will miss the World Cup finals after losing his appeal against a 10-match ban imposed by FIFA for a fascist outburst after the play-offs.
Simunic, now 36, was captured on video using a microphone to lead chants which were found to have associations with Croatia’s former pro-Nazi Ustase regime following his country’s victory over Iceland in Zagreb on November 19.
Croatia face hosts Brazil, Mexico and Cameroon in Group A at the finals, but Dinamo Zagreb captain Simunic is banned from entering the stadium for any of those games — or for any further games should the nation progress.
Simunic is the player who made unwitting World Cup history on being shown two yellow cards by referee Graham Poll at the last finals but escaping being sent off.
A statement released by CAS today read: “The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected the appeal filed by the Croatian football player Josip Simunic against the decision of the FIFA Appeal Committee issued on February 21st, 2014.
“The CAS confirmed the sanction imposed by Fifa against the player, who remains suspended for 10 official matches, the first of which has to be served during the final competition of the 2014 Fifa World Cup, banned from entering the confines of the stadiums for those 10 matches and also fined 30,000 Swiss francs.”
After FIFA disciplinary proceedings were opened against Simunic on November 22 of last year, a statement from his club Dinamo denied he had had any intent to make a political statement but confirmed that Simunic had used the phrase: “For the homeland”.
The player took the microphone at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, turned to the stands and shouted ‘Za dom’ (for the Homeland), to which the audience replied ‘Spremni’ (Ready).
The call-and-response salute is widely associated with Croatia’s Nazi-allied Ustasha regime which ruled in 1941-45 and brutally persecuted Jews, Serbs, Gypsies and anti-fascist Croats.
But FIFA found him guilty of “offending the dignity of a group of persons by using discriminatory words”.