Wednesday 20 September 2017

FIFA charges Croatia defender Josip Simunic over pro-Nazi chants

Martyn Ziegler

CROATIA defender Josip Simunic has been charged by FIFA after appearing to lead fans in a chant with pro-Nazi connotations.

FIFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against the 35-year-old after he began chants - that reportedly have associations with Croatia's former pro-Nazi Ustashas regime - with home fans following the 2-0 win over Iceland that saw Croatia qualify for the World Cup.

FIFA said in a statement: "We can confirm that disciplinary proceedings have been opened concerning the case."

According to reports in Croatia, Dinamo Zagreb captain Simunic was fined £2,600 yesterday by prosecutors in Zagreb for "spreading racial hatred".

A Dinamo statement denied any intent to make a political statement but confirmed that Simunic had used the phrase: "For the homeland". Croatian fans replied by shouting: "Ready".

The 35-year-old, who was born and grew up in Australia, was recorded on video leading the chants with a microphone, which has caused a stir of controversy.

"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."

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