Croatian soccer player barred from World Cup for Nazi-linked chant

Croatian defender Josip Simunic is shown just before his team's qualifying match against Iceland in Zagreb, Croatia, in November.
(Darko Bandic / Associated Press)

Donald Sterling isn’t the only sports figure whose remarks are causing him trouble.

The international Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a 10-match suspension of a Croatian soccer player who at a World Cup qualifying match last fall led fans in a chant associated with Croatia’s pro-Nazi World War II regime.

After Croatia’s victory over Iceland in Zagreb, according to the court, Josip Simunic grabbed a microphone on the field and yelled, in Croatian, “To the battle! For the homeland!” Fans responded: “We are ready!”

In their report, court arbitrators identified the chant as “being the war call used by ... the Croatian pro-Nazi regime that ruled the state during World War II before being dissolved in May 1945.”


FIFA imposed the 10-match suspension -- starting with Croatia’s first World Cup match against Brazil -- and Simunic appealed last month.

“The player stated that he did not have the intention to offend or discriminate anyone but that he wanted to share his patriotic emotions with the fans after such an important success,” the court said.

The court’s decision means Simunic will not play in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.