ZAGREB: Croatia midfielder Josip Simunic has been fined $4,400 by the public prosector’s office for his pro-Nazi chant after Tuesday’s World Cup 2-0 playoff defeat of Iceland.
His presence at the finals in Brazil could be at risk if world federation takes serious disciplinary action.
After the final whistle Australia-born Simunic took the microphone at Maksimir Stadium, 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.
In a statement on its website, the Zagreb county court said Simunic had been found guilty of public disturbance and inciting ethnic hatred.
It added: “He was aware that it symbolises the official salute from the time of Croatia’s totalitarian regime and as such represents a racist ideology.”
Simunic insisted he had meant nothing wrong, adding: “As a Croat who was born and grew up outside my homeland, I associate home with love, warmth and positive struggle – everything we showed on the pitch to win our place in the World Cup.”
World federation FIFA is studying reports of the incident and Simunic faces further action, even suspension which could cost him his place at the World Cup finals.